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5 Common Elder Law Questions Answered

5 Common Elder Law Questions Answered


Answers to the most common queries lawyers encounter about elder laws.

As we grow older, many questions and concerns arise about how to live the rest of our lives. Where to live if you become frail, who will care for you, how to pay for care, how to turn over your assets, and so much more.

Because the population of older adults is growing fast In the last decade, laws are also built to assure their rights and take care of their concerns. The elder law was made for senior citizens, especially those with special needs, who wants help in managing their medical and financial circumstances while growing old.

Regardless whether you need to personally understand your rights, or just want to know more about the legalities of end-of-life planning, it always best to ask questions from the experts – the lawyers of Elder Law.

One of which is the author of ElderCare Ready Book, Stuart Furman, Esq. from California. Based on Furman’s years of experience, these are the 5 common elder law questions they get from older adults who want answers.

Can I defend my properties, assets, and estate from being taken away by Medi-Cal (Medicaid in California) when I die?

Most people in California believe that if they get Medicaid, assets they didn't  include in their application are also exempted from being recovered by the Medicaid recovery statutes.

This is a “false impression,” based on Furman. Based on his experience, people often confuse the written words in the Medi-Cal document.

“One of the common misconceptions people have is they… confuse eligibility exemptions with recovery exemptions,” said Furman.

If a person’s house is exempted, meaning, not included in determining eligibility, it is not exempted from recovery. Because most people are confused with this, they apply for Medical recovery lien for their houses thinking those were not included in the program.

The worst part is, local Medicaid offices do not usually give advice on protecting assets. But Furman says there are various legal ways to save your houses from Medicaid lien and other liens in your state. Consulting with an elder lawyer about it is a must.

Can I afford long-term care for the remaining years of my life?

Answering this frequently asked question is not easy. None can’t make money “magically appear,” says Furman.

But according to him, you can afford it if you assess all your possible needs long before you need long-term care. Lay out all your resources and from there, develop a way how to stretch those funds to last your lifetime. Consider the following in when determining whether you can afford long-term care for the rest of your life.

Your age. How long do you expect to live? If you maintain your healthy lifestyle and do not have existing and chronic medical condition, you may expect more years but if not, expect lesser.

Your ailments.  Depending on your medical history, current illness or disease you think you’ll most probably develop in the coming years, research for different kinds of care facilities, whether it be nursing or home care, and know their price range.

Your cost of living. Compute how much you’ll spend if you choose to live in a skilled nursing, assisted living, or remain in your home and hire home health aides.

Your income generation. Even if you retire, you can still generate revenue by selling your insurance policy, reverse mortgages, selling your home, or earning extra income doing some freelance work.

Your family’s support. Ask if your grown kids or relatives can help with your long-term care expenses or not. Do not handle this alone. It's best if you can rely on someone when the times comes you can no longer be self-reliant.

If I make a trust, can I modify it whenever I need to?

If you create a trust, you can also change it, according to Furman. An older adult can make two kinds of trusts. First is the revocable or amendable trust, which is a trust you can alter, modify, change and revoke. Second is the irrevocable trusts that you cannot revoke or change unless it says you can. Furman says that there are instances in which “irrevocable trust” can be changed and repealed. Ask your local lawyers on elder law for more information.

If I make a living trust, does this mean I’m giving up control over my assets?

Furman says you are not giving up control even if you have a living trust. The switch of control occurs only when you die, or you become incapable of handling your own affairs.

“You are in control until death,” said Furman. Only then will a living trust be disseminated to your beneficiaries. In the instance that you become incompetent, the trustee successor you placed in your living trust will be the one to take over your “trust without court involvement,” Fruman added.

Is it OK to make a living will without probate?

Most people confuse the meaning of “living will” and associate it with ‘living trust. However, Furman notes that both legal documents are not the same. When a person makes a living will, they are leaving behind directions for people close to them to “pull out the plug” in the instance that the creator of the will becomes comatose. On the other hand, a living trust a legal tool a person can use to evade probate. However, every state has different regulations and rules about it. It is recommended to consult local attorneys about your situation to be sure.

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[1] Comment.
pearly thorpe On Jun 21, 2017

This was very interesting I did not know there was a different in a living will and a living trust thank for informatinon

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