Estate planning can help New Yorkers avoid troubling elder law issues

Growing old is a privilege but it does come with its challenges. Aches and pains are normal as we age and some people also expect that financial concerns will also appear after they retire or following an illness or injury. This is not always the case, however, even for those with limited resources.

It is never too early to establish an estate plan. Although there is no magic bullet, an estate plan can help you and your family avoid certain elder law issues.

Estate planning

While many people think that a will is sufficient to dispense with their assets, there are many important estate issues that a simple will may not accomplish. If you have minor children or an adult child with special needs, you will want to set up a trust as well as make guardianship arrangements. A special needs trust allows you to provide for the long-term care of someone who requires extra care without jeopardizing his or her right to federal assistance.

Long-term healthcare

New Yorkers cannot trust that Medicare and the Affordable Care Act will cover their long-term healthcare costs. Nursing home care can cost tens of thousands of dollars each month and in-home care can be quite costly as well. Without careful Medicaid planning, assets you spent a lifetime acquiring may be at risk.

If you have been receiving certain types of governmental aid and pass away after the age of 55, the state may place a lien on your property that your heirs will be required to pay off. There are a few exceptions to this "estate recovery" provision but you do not want your surviving family to find out they owe hundreds of thousands of dollars during an already difficult time of their lives.

New Yorkers have another option for long-term care. The New York State Partnership for Long-Term Care is an insurance program that provides an option for residents to protect certain assets in anticipation of needing care later.

Mistreatment

Unfortunately, some elder issues may arise that no amount of estate planning can cure.

  • Elder abuse: Instances of elder abuse have been far too common in the news in the past few years. It is important to carefully screen those hired to care for elderly family members and to check in on them on a frequent basis.
  • Nursing home neglect: Inattention to details by nursing home staff can easily lead to physical injuries and cases of negligence for loved ones committed to their care. Improper training and supervision of staff is unacceptable.

A lawyer can help

If you do not have an estate plan or have not recently updated your plan, consult an experienced estate and Medicaid planning attorney. A New York lawyer knowledgeable about nursing home neglect and instances of elder abuse can also help when you suspect a loved one is being mistreated or neglected.