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Elder Care Law
Basic Information

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Preface

Many people are able to stay independent and take care of business by themselves as they age. For some people, however, there may come a time when they are unable to make or communicate their decisions about health care or finances. This article discusses how adults can protect their right to choose by making decisions ahead of time. This book is intended for two audiences:

  • People who want information on how to plan for the future using a Health Care Advance Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, a Joint Bank Account or a Revocable Living Trust;
  • Families and friends who want information about how to take care of business for someone they know under these arrangements or under Guardianship, Conservatorship or Representative Payeeship.

Note: This article is intended to give readers a general understanding of the subject and information on where to go for help. It...

 

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What financial and legal plans should an older person make?

  • Many people are able to stay independent and take care of business by themselves as they age, but for some people, there may come a time when they are unable to make or communicate their decisions about health care or finances.
  • You are probably aware of the need to plan for the future by making a will or some other arrangement to handle your affairs after your death.
  • It is just as important to plan for the time in your life when you may be unable to communicate or make responsible decisions about your living arrangements, care and finances.
  • The law states that a person is incompetent or incapacitated when the person is unable to make or communicate responsible decisions about his or her person or property because of a physical or mental illness or disability.
  • The time to plan for that possibility is now while you are competent and can stillmake responsible decisions about what you want in the event you become incapacitated.
  • A Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you choose another person to make health care decisions for you right away or when you are too ill to make decisions about your own care.
  • A “Living Will” refers to a set of written instructions that explain your wishes regarding end-of-life decisions in the event that you are unable to communicate with your doctor.
  • A Guardianship or Conservatorship is generally only considered after other alternatives have been explored. The Probate Court makes the decision about whether it is needed and who the Guardian or Conservator should be.
  • A Joint Bank Account is a common arrangement that people use to allow more than one person to access money in an account.
  • The Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for Finances allows a trusted person to spend money on your behalf and manage your property.
  • Under a typical Trust, one person (called a “Trustor” or “Settlor”) allows someone (called a “Trustee”) to control his property and to make it available for the benefit of himself or others (called “Beneficiaries”).
  • A Representative Payee is responsible for receiving the older person's check from a federal agency (usually Social Security or Veteran's Administration) and spending it on the elder's care and support.

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What is Medicare?

  • Medicare is for people 65 and over; people of any age who have kidney failure or long term kidney disease; or people who are permanently disabled and cannot work.
  • The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
    • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps cover inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facility, hospice, and home health care.
    • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover doctors' and other health care providers' services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, and home health care. It also helps cover some preventive services to help maintain your health and to keep certain illnesses from getting worse.
    • Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) offers health plan options run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies. These plans are a way to get the benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B, and most cover Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). Some plans may include extra benefits for an extra cost.
    • Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage) helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. It may help lower prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future.

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What is Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance?

  • Long-term care is a type of personal care you may need if you are unable to care for yourself because of a physical illness, a disability, or a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Long-term care helps a person keep a current lifestyle, but it may not improve or fix medical problems.
  • Care can be received at home or in a hospice, adult day care center, nursing home, or assisted living facility.
  • Skilled care is for conditions that require a medical professional, such as a nurse or a therapist. This type of care is usually provided in a nursing home or other care center.
  • Personal care (sometimes called custodial care) helps a person carry out normal daily activities, like bathing, eating and moving around. Personal care is less involved than skilled care, and it may be provided in many places.
  • Long-term care can be very expensive. The cost depends on the amount and type of care needed, where the care is received, and what type of medical professional provides it.
  • Long-term care insurance can help protect your assets against the high cost of extended long-term care. However, long-term care insurance usually only makes sense if you have significant assets to protect other than your home, car, and a small amount of cash.
  • Long-term care is typically less expensive if you purchase it when you’re younger and yu may want to seek help from a trusted financial advisor to decide if it meets your needs.

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