Costly medical bills, the potential need for nursing home care, the possibility of dying, and the need to provide security for a surviving spouse are a few important reasons to get financial affairs in order.
Just as people usually get to a point where they need a health care representative to make decisions when they can’t, it’s wise to appoint someone to make financial decisions should that time come.
Planning ahead ensures that family members will be provided for in the manner of your choosing.
An important concern in later years is whether expenses for one spouse will gobble up resources and leave a surviving spouse with not enough money for their own needs.
Medicare is the federal government’s insurance program for older adults and those with disabilities. Medicare will pay for limited time in a nursing home provided 24-hour nursing care is required. But people who need long-term assistance and those who need non-medical help such as preparing meals, doing laundry or remembering medications must pay for this care out of their own pockets. This can get very expensive!
Medicaid is the federal government’s program designed for low-income individuals. Sometimes it can be enlisted to pay for extra-care needs. Many people enter a facility as private-pay clients and eventually exhaust all their assets. At that point, they qualify for this program. Medicaid typically covers what Medicare doesn’t. However, choices of facilities are extremely limited when on Medicaid. Qualifying for this low-income program involves specific formulas for countable assets (bank accounts, stock, property) and exempt assets (house, car, belongings).
Long-term care insurance
Lon-term care insurance is an alternative that may help you protect your assets. This form of insurance is designed to pay for skilled and unskilled help for a long period of time. Depending on the terms of your policy, you may receive care in your home, in an assisted-living setting, in a residential care setting, or in a nursing home.
Long-term care insurance is not for everyone, however. It can be very expensive, especially if you are already ill. Unfortunately, the best time to enroll in long-term care insurance is while you are relatively healthy. Age is also a factor. The younger you are, the lower the premiums, but the longer you will likely be paying them. If you would qualify for Medicaid within six months to a year of paying for services on your own, long-term care insurance is generally not considered a worthwhile investment.
Long-term care insurance typically has many restrictions. Shop around carefully for a policy that meets your projected needs. It is not unheard of that a family has paid premiums for years, only to find that the particular circumstances of the condition are not covered by their policy.
Each state has a State Health Insurance Assistance Program that can offer tips and advice about the purchase of long-term care insurance. Contact the federal Eldercare Locator program toll free at 1-800-677-1116 to find the State Health Insurance Assistance office closest to you.
Power of Attorney: Someone to handle your finances, just in case
During the course of an illness, it may become difficult to get to the bank, file taxes, go to the assessor’s office, or balance the checkbook. Yet to protect you, most financial institutions will not discuss your finances with anyone who is not listed on your account. These circumstances can become a significant problem if you become homebound or bedridden. To alleviate this quandary, consider choosing a trustworthy person to be your “durable power of attorney.” Once you have made your choice, legally all you need to do is fill out a durable power of attorney form available at any stationary store. Be sure to find out if it must be notarized to be valid.
Giving someone power of attorney means that person has the right to make financial decisions in your place. For this reason, you must choose the person with care. If you have any doubts about the individual you have in mind, hold off on making a final decision.
Giving someone power of attorney, however, does not mean you lose control of your finances. You can continue to make all decisions and carry out all your transactions as usual. But if something happens to you and you become incapacitated, the person who has durable power of attorney may act in your stead. You have the option of limiting the person’s rights to managing your banking, taxes, or specific accounts.
You may also revoke durable power of attorney at any time. Simply send a written notice to each of your financial institutions and consultants. (The word “durable” does not mean “forever.” It simply means that if you become mentally incapacitated, e.g., from a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease, the person may continue to make financial decisions for you.) Until a durable power of attorney is revoked, it remains valid as long as you are alive. At such point that you pass on, however, the person serving as your durable power of attorney will no longer have access to your assets or decision-making rights regarding your finances.
Some people choose to open a joint checking account with the trusted person, which is a less-formal arrangement than durable power of attorney. This enables the cosigner to write checks after the death has occurred, which can simplify tasks such as bill paying. This setup does not allow the person to sign your taxes or conduct other legal transactions for you. If you decide you want to change the arrangement, however, it may be a little more difficult to revoke shared access to a joint account than it would be to revoke a power of attorney. Plus, unpaid debts of either of the co-signers could impact the credit of the other.
A durable power of attorney can only be granted while the individual who is ill is still mentally sound. If you have a terminal illness, there will likely come a time when you will not be able to make decisions for yourself. Without a durable power of attorney in place, especially if you are not married and you become mentally incapacitated, the courts will need to appoint a guardian to make financial decisions for you. This person might be a family member or a professional guardian.
Wills and living trusts: In the event of your death
The need to protect your partner is a key reason to get your financial papers in order. You will want to be sure that he or she is not left high and dry, especially if you are living with someone without being married. Inheritance laws do not acknowledge unmarried couples; thus, you must specifically stipulate your wishes regarding your house or other assets. This is particularly true for same-sex partners because surviving family members may not be aware of the partnership or may be unwilling to respect the union.
Everyone over age 18 should have a document that designates whom they want their assets to go to in the case of their death. Generally called a “will”, such papers also can describe who are to be the guardians of minor children in your custody. If you do not have a will, state law will divide your property according to its own formulas. It will even appoint a guardian for your children if their other parent is not able to care for them.
To be legal, a will must meet these requirements:
You must be mentally capable at the time that you create it.
The document must state specifically that it is your will.
You must sign and date the will in the presence of as many as three witnesses.
The witnesses must sign the will. They are not required to read the document. Their signatures simply affirm that they know it is you signing the will and that you were of sound mind when you created it. The people you choose to be witnesses should not be people who will be receiving assets from your estate.
It is advisable that you choose someone to be your estate’s executor—the person who will manage the distribution of your assets. Give a copy of your will to this individual and keep a copy at home and perhaps one in a safe deposit box.
After death, a person’s estate usually goes into probate, which can involve inheritance taxes and other expenses. It will also take time to distribute all the person’s assets. To spare survivors this ordeal as well as save on taxes, some people choose to make a revocable living trust. This document is similar to a will in that you can determine who receives what after you die. However, it is quite different than a will because you remove your name from your property while you are still alive and put all your assets into the trust.
The laws governing living trusts are very complicated; composing a living trust that truly meets your needs requires the skills of a lawyer. Not surprisingly, living trusts can be expensive. (Beware that there are many online living-trust scams that offer low-cost kits or paperwork. A trust really does need the personalization only an attorney can provide.) One advantage of a living trust is that you spend the money and devote the time to setting it up before you die or are incapacitated, thus sparing your survivors these expenditures. If your estate is not very large, however, a living may not be worth the expense.
Becky and her company was an answer to prayer for me and my family. My father and father-in-law both ended up in assisted living before they died.Becky not only helped us find the correct facilty but she helped our extended family and both Dads navigate some very difficult transitions.I would recommend her company to anyone who is caring for a senior. There is a lot to learn ,alot of trials and a lot of emotion during this stage of life-You don't have to do it alone!
I recently had to go through the incredible difficulty of sorting out my aging Mother's complicated financial picture as her power of attorney. I decided then, that I also had to find a much better solution for organizing the complexities of my own life plan. I needed to do this not only for my wife, if she survived me, but for our children in the event of our passing together. We were blessed to come upon the "Life Plan" program by Inspire Care of Central New York. The plan book and online program offered us the perfect solution for our situation. We completed the plan together and now feel extremely comfortable that we have all the pieces of our finances and life wishes in place. This program is a must have for anyone interested in finding simple, organizational solutions for their life plan!
My name is Matthew Steenberg. My family had the opportunity to acquire Inspire Care of CNY to coordinate all of our father's medical needs! Reflecting back over the course of time with our dad, and the relationship he/we had with the company, it was priceless! The personal care for our father was incredible! Visitations by the Therapists, by Rebecca, were always valued and productive. The advice for addtional support and followup discussions regarding our dads care were exemplary! And,I might add that Inspire Care was always available 24/7 for any questions or emergencies that needed attention! The company also worked extremely hard to establish relationships with all of the persons who would be with our father during his daylight and nighttime hours. Custodial staff, nurses, facility directors, anyone associated with our dad's care were connected. Inspire Care created a team around our dad. The experience was very impressive! Additionally, the mentoring that they offer the caregivers was very insightful and so comforting. Inspire Care not only cared for our father, but also very importantly cared for us! Care for all in the world of meeting the needs of our aging lov ed ones! In perspective, we don't know what we would have done without the professional loving care they provided to all of us in the family. It is without hesitation that we highly recommend Inspire Care of CNY to anyone or family that is seeking five star management and expertise in the care of their loved ones!
Becky and Inspire care has been an absolute blessing with our Mother who is suffering from dementia. Not only the in home care provided but the guidance given helped us to navigate the process to move her to into a long term care facility where she is now thriving. We absolutely could not have done this without the care, help, and guidance from Inspire.
Provided an immediate, and long term, in-home care solution for our beloved relative—and eventually spearheaded the skilled nursing facility admission process. Provided highly professional and compassionate service and advice from start to finish.
Inspire Care was so wonderful to work with in my mother's final years. Becky was with us from the early days when we were looking for someone to share a few meals and leave a few in the fridge for our Mom who lived alone but was showing early signs of dementia, through a broken hip and eventual 24x7 care.Having an experienced team in Inspire Care to help us navigate was SO helpful during stressful times. They helped us find and work with agencies and businesses that we would have struggled to navigate without their experienced guidance.
We have cultivated such a wonderful partnership with Inspire Care. Becky, is extremely thorough with much attention to detail thatperhaps one thought wouldn't matter. The Inspire care Team leads with such professionalism and have such compassion for their clients. We value & embrace the partnership we have created the entire team .
I have known Becky Auyer and Inspire Care for over 10 years. I have recommended her to many friends and families.About 7 years ago, I hired her to help me with my parents. (I recall thinking I was a super hero, and I could do this well all by myself!)Early on, she helped me to navigate both of my parents getting off the road. That was a tremendous hurdle for our family and much needed for everyones safety.She helped us in the house with safety measures, meds, doctor appointments and check ins when I was away on travel.In 2017, my parents moved to senior apartment living. She helped us with that process, as well as helping us with mobility issues that both parents now had.Over the last 5 years, with COVID, my mother suffering numerous falls, rehab, and several hospitalization, Becky and her staff were always a phone call away. Becky, Gwen, Sharon, Deborah and Cheryl, all pitched in with daily treatments, showers, physical therapy, and sometimes taking turns at the hospital. This gave me so much comfort knowing they could help me in so many ways.During the 1st 6 months of 2022, both of my parents died at home with hospice, family, and the Inspire Care team helping us every step of the way.In a lot of ways, these last 12 years was the toughest job I ever had. I don't regret it, but I know I couldn't have done as well as I did without Inspire Care by my side until the end.
Inspire Care of CNY cared for both of my aging parents in the final stages of their lives. Becky and her team were FANTASTIC. We faced many challenges--moving my parents out of their house and into a retirement community, and then confronting various issues as their health failed. I don't know how we would have survived that phase of life without their patient, kind, and knowledgeable support. The support was for my parents, but also for us, their adult children. I wish I could give more than five stars!