Michigan Elder Care Attorney
As individuals age they sometimes require assistance in order to function. This can become necessary due to a previous accident, sudden and lasting health issues, and the presence of a significant decline in mental or physical abilities. Generally speaking, an average of over 60 percent of individuals who reach the age of 65 years will require some sort of long term care in order to still function. This unfortunate reality means that it is very important for senior individuals and their families to work with a long term care attorney to properly plan out their elder care options. Long term care planning will not only ensure quality care is provided, but it will also serve to protect assets and potentially save on costs in the long run.
The elder law attorneys at Sean J Nichols, PLLC are dedicated to helping elders and their families formulate long term care plans to ensure a comfortable, and affordable future. If you or a loved one need the assistance of a long term care attorney with matters related to long term elder care in Michigan, contact our Law Firm today.
What Is Long Term Care Planning?
Long term care planning can be quite an involved process, and generally includes a large range of services. Which services are included in the planning process is dependent on whether long term medical care is anticipated in the future, or if the individual currently requires assistance with daily living and tasks. These tasks, known as activities of daily living (ADL), include:
- Incontinence care
- Toilet needs
- Mobility issues
In addition to ADL many people may require help at some point in their lives with the following:
- Shopping and groceries
- Meal preparation
- Using the telephone
- Managing money
- Taking medication
- Driving a vehicle
Who Provides Long Term Care?
There are multiple ways in which long term care can be provided. This will depend on the level of care required and how involved it ends up being. In certain cases where only minimal care is required, this can be provided by the individual’s family for free. This could be considered the best case scenario if family members have the time to devote to providing this assistance. Sometimes friends or neighbors also assist in this process, depending on where the individual lives.
This will save a considerable amount of costs that would otherwise be incurred if outside help had to be hired to ensure the individual received proper care and assistance in their day to day living situation. It also gives the individual a better sense of dignity for themselves by allowing them to still retain their independence and stay in their own home, which adds to their overall quality of life.
Unfortunately, there will be situations where declining health and more demanding care force families to seek professional home care assistance in order to properly care for their loved ones. When this happens, normally there are a couple of options for professional help. These are known as assisted living services or a nursing home. Assisted living care can come in a few different varieties, depending on the intensity of care required.
The most basic is in-home care where a professional visits the individual once or multiple times a day to check in on them, provide meals, transportation, etc. More involved assisted living usually requires the individual to move into a formal assisted living facility that gives them a certain amount of independence and autonomy but with staff always on site. Oftentimes these facilities have transportation services that provide residents with the ability to engage in off-site activities and provide them with continued engagement in the greater community.
Unlike assisted living services and facilities, nursing homes are much more involved and are a long term option. These facilities provide more advanced care than assisted living centers, and normally have full hospital capabilities on site to handle more complex health care conditions. A nursing home also may provide physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Something to note is that a nursing home must be licensed in the State of Michigan, due to the fact that they provide medical services in addition to assisting with the daily activities of residents. Assisted living services on the other hand do not require licensing because they do not provide medical care as part of their normal operations.
Who Pays For Assisted Living & Nursing Home Care?
The question of how elder care is financially covered is very important in the long term care planning process. The costs can be quite expensive and determining how and who will pay for them can be complicated. Because of this, it is vital that families work with an attorney specializing in long term care planning in order to ensure that not only the individual has funding to cover their care, but also to protect any estate assets and inheritance that the family may be expecting.
Public programs do exist to help with the costs of elder care, which should always be explored as an option before the family or the estate begins incurring out of pocket expenses. The federal Medicare and Medicaid programs cover some costs in certain situations. Below is an outline of what’s generally covered under these programs, which should be understood before an individual enters a long term care faculty.
- Does not pay for assisted living long term care facilities
- After a 3 day hospital stay, will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled services or rehabilitation in a nursing home setting (certain rules apply)
- Covers the costs for skilled in-home services
- Covers the costs for nursing home care depending on income
- Will pay for nursing home after one “qualifies” by spending down assets
Medicaid rules are especially complex and it is vital that an individual’s situation should be discussed with an attorney specializing in Medicaid law before their placement in a nursing home. This is especially true if the individual has substantial assets in their estate.
Michigan Estate Recovery
Michigan is one of several states that has what is known as The Estate Recovery Law. This law, passed by the state in 2007 and approved by the Federal government in 2011, created the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) which allows the State of Michigan to seize an individual’s estate if they were to pass away while collecting Medicaid benefits. This is a serious concern for families who stand to inherit assets from their elder’s estate, because instead of these assets being passed on to the family, they will be forced to go through probate court. During the probate process, the state will demand the monies from the sale of the estate be sent back to the state to compensate them for Medicaid benefits the individual received.
Estate recovery in Michigan is a complicated and financially dangerous process, especially for widows, widowers, and/or single people with homes and/or property. An elder law attorney will help set up a trust or Lady Bird deed to protect your assets. The timing and construction of these documents is critical to protect an estate, and must be handled by an experienced elder law attorney in order to be effective.
More On Long Term Care Planning
Failing to plan for one’s own long term care is unfortunately a common situation that most people put themselves into. More often than not, people do not plan for this because they do not think about growing old and what happens to them. Old age is a long ways off for most people, and normally what is important to them is the present – remaining healthy, continuing their independence and not living outside of their means. Although they may not be worried about the future, it is important for family members to encourage long term care planning for when the inevitable.
It is human nature to deny, ignore or shut down thoughts that tell us we may not be able to care for ourselves at some point. This is especially true when people are healthy and long term care isn’t necessary at the moment. However it is critical that plans are made for events that can occur that are out of our control. Things such as accidents, the sudden onset of a disease, illness or even a permanent disability are inherently unpredictable by nature. In the same manner that individuals prepare for fires, car accidents, theft and so forth, long term care plans should be in place to ensure they have the financial ability to cover their long term care while still protecting their estate and assets.
For aging individuals, one of the most earth-shattering events that can take place is the need for long-term care. Typically, the need for long term care is a result of a person no longer being able to fully care for themselves. This can be a very difficult time for these individuals, as they often feel a loss of dignity as a result of their reduced independence and inability to fully function on their own. In addition to this, the loss of health that is often associated with the requirement of long term care can place a serious financial burden on these individuals and their families, making an already difficult situation even more stressful. Having a plan in place to handle these inevitabilities will make for a smoother transition into elder care and ensure the remaining years of an individual’s life is as enjoyable as possible.
It should be obvious by now how important it is for individuals to start planning early for retirement due to the high costs of long-term. In addition to putting funds towards retirement savings, funding should also be directed towards long-term care insurance. This insurance offers an additional safety net that can be a great compliment to any retirement plan.
Overall, planning for the risk and need for long-term care, while daunting, is always less expensive than being in the position of having a financial need that cannot be fulfilled, leaving the burden to fall on family members. Working with an experienced attorney specializing in long term care planning to create an effective strategy and prepare the written documentation necessary is the best way to ensure that an individual will spend their golden years in peace and comfort.