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Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog

Recent statistics: many people will need Medicaid

Recent statistics to consider for Medicaid/Medical Assistance Planning show that many people throughout the United States, including in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will eventually have to rely on Medicaid/Medical Assistance to help them pay for their nursing home care.

Currently, about one in three people hitting retirement age will eventually need to stay long term in a nursing home. As this blog has mentioned previously, a nursing home stay comes with an annual tab of about $100,000. Unless a senior citizen has long term care insurance through a private insurance company, their only choices are to pay for the stay out of their savings or to apply for Medicaid. Not surprisingly, of those elderly Americans who will need a nursing home, the clear majority, about 75 percent, will not have enough saved up to pay for a nursing home and will need to apply for Medicaid.

We help executors navigate all types of estates

Being named the estate executor of a friend or loved one's estate is a real honor but also an important and time-consuming responsibility. The consequences of not meeting this responsibility are also serious.

For one, an executor who makes a significant mistake has to live with the fact that he or she caused division in a family or cost the heirs money or property that they otherwise would have received. In the most serious cases, an executor may wind up getting sued and being expected to cover a family's losses with his or her own funds.

We help to select guardians and with other guardianship needs

Regarding guardianships, a previous post on this blog discussed the responsibilities that a person who serves as the guardian of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, resident has when caring for and making important medical and placement decisions on behalf of an incapacitated loved one.

Given the great responsibility any guardian in Pennsylvania must exercise, one of the most pressing questions for family members who are concerned about an elderly loved one with dementia or an adult child with special needs is who best would serve at the person's guardian.

How do people typically pay for nursing home care?

Long term care planning can be important since many people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, may have to spend their last years living in a nursing facility. One thing that nursing facilities generally have in common, however, is price, with the average cost being $321.95 per day in 2017. This means that long term care planning is important when people in Pennsylvania start thinking about financing nursing home care.

There are several ways in which seniors pay for nursing home care. First, Medicare may cover a small amount of such care, provided that the Medicare requirements are met, such as a 3 day hospital stay, going to a nursing facility for skilled care for up to 100 days. Based on these limitations, Medicare only pays for about 2% of nursing home residents, which does not include an extended stay.

5 tips for discussing nursing home care with your aging parent

Long term care and nursing home planning may need to be discussed with your aging parents. Are you trying to figure out a way to broach the conversation? You have good intentions and are only bringing up this topic because you love them, but the discussion can be very challenging and emotional.

The following five tips can get you and your family started down the right path for a meaningful discussion about long term care and nursing home planning. Also, having an experienced elder law attorney as part of the process can be helpful. 

Examining the responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person

In Pennsylvania, guardianships are sometimes sought over adults who can no longer handle their own medical or placement decisions. Those appointed as guardians have a lot of responsibility for their wards, which responsibilities are grouped into two basic categories. A Guardian of the Estate will usually have responsibility for a person's assets, while a Guardian of the Person will have responsibility for the care and custody of the ward.

With respect to the latter responsibility, it is important for Pittsburgh residents to understand that Pennsylvania law does not allow a guardian to treat an adult, even if he or she is incapacitated, like a small child. The guardian does have the power to decide where his or her ward will live and how the person's basic needs will be met, but the guardian is also supposed to assist the ward in developing self-reliance and independence, if possible.

Heirlooms and Estate Planning

Estate planning sometimes deals with family heirlooms. A growing trend finds family heirlooms being sold or given away by younger generations to whom these items have been left because they do not see the value in holding on to them. Millennials and generation X'ers may be left cultural and historical items from past generations in a Last Will and Testament; but more of them are shunning pieces like grandma's antique chairs and dining room table and opting for new furniture from places like IKEA. The same could be said for large hutches and the fine china that resides in them. Old scrapbooks full of family pictures and letters may wind up on the scrap heap as well.

We help people planning for long term care

Long term care planning is an issue that many Pittsburgh residents must face when dealing with the needs of their older relatives for assisted living or nursing facility care. Planning for long term care is something that should be done sooner, rather than later. It is also never too early to begin preparing for one's own possible long term care needs. When making these preparations, it is a good idea to follow some best practices.

Not too long ago, we told our readers about one strategy that is usually recommended for those preparing for possible long term care needs: simplification. Many financially savvy people are adept at managing mutual fund portfolios or even investments of a more complex nature. Although, this can be fun and rewarding, not everyone either wants to or is able to handle these investments when the need arises for long term care. Depending on one's specific financial situation, consolidation and re-titling of assets could be a good idea.

Baby Boomers: Can You Afford Nursing Home Care?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania has the fifth largest number of baby boomer residents. In fact, as of 2015, nearly 20 percent of the state's population was age 65 and older. For these individuals and their family members, it's important to take steps to prepare and plan for the next 10, 20 or more years.

Many baby boomers are concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and long-term care and may question their ability to afford to live out their golden years comfortably while also providing financially for a spouse or leaving a legacy to heirs. Thankfully, there are ways to do both and an estate planning and elder law attorney can provide advice and assistance on how to achieve these and other long-term goals.

Trusts could be the way for long term care planning

Long term care planning may involve the use of irrevocable trusts. Why are these trusts useful vehicles to protect your assets? Irrevocable trusts take the assets out of your name and control, which can protect them from being exposed to paying for your long term care.

Modern medicine has made it possible for many Pennsylvanians to live full, productive lives. As people reach their golden years, however, they should plan for long term care. Why is planning necessary? According to a recent survey, 50 percent of people over the age of 65 spend time in a nursing home. Twenty-five percent of people over the age of 65 spend at least one year in a nursing home, and 10 percent of these people spend at least five years.

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