How to Find the Best Long-Term Care Policy
October 30, 2010
As the average life-span increases—and the cost of medical care along with it—more and more people are beginning to see the need for long-term care insurance. Simply having a retirement plan isn’t enough anymore. Saving for retirement now means not only saving for your living expenses, it means preparing and saving for your health care expenses as well; expenses which will most likely include major medical procedures, eventual in-home care, and perhaps even long-term nursing care.
The idea of long-term care insurance is no longer a new and strange one, but it’s still not a concept most people feel completely comfortable with. What kind of long-term care insurance should you be looking at? Can you get coverage for your entire life? (Probably not.) What types of care and services will be covered? (Each policy will vary.) Can you get a policy that goes into effect right away, or is there a waiting period? (There is often a waiting period.)
Not all long-term care policies are created equal. The U.S. News and World Report recently published an article advising 7 things to look at when choosing a long-term care policy. Some of the things you’ll want to pay attention to include the benefit amount, the benefit period, which services are covered, and inflation protection, just to name a few.
Choosing a long-term care policy is an important step, and not one to be taken blindly. If you are confused about long-term care policies, or unsure of which one may be right for you, don’t hesitate to ask the advice of a professional. Insurance agents, financial advisors and estate planners may all be able to help answer your questions or point you in the right direction.
Caregiver Compensation Agreements Benefit Elders AND Caregivers
September 1, 2010
Caring for an aging relative is hard work. Many of the people who serve as caregivers admit that they often feel as if they have two jobs—their day job, and the part-to-full-time job of caregiver. If you consider that in our fast-paced society time is money, then most of these caregivers are not only giving up their time, but also their potential income. Caregivers need to know that it doesn’t have to be this way; caregivers can be compensated according to mutually agreed upon terms of a Caregiver Agreement, or Personal-Care Contract.
Elder law attorneys have known about Caregiver Agreements for a long time, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal will hopefully raise caregiver awareness of this useful contract; especially, as the article mentions, given the “still-fragile” state of the economy. A Caregiver (or Employment) Agreement “should document a caregiver’s responsibilities and hours and set a rate of pay that’s in line with local practices. Both the caregiver and care recipient should sign the contract and disclose it to the rest of the family.”
An agreement of this sort can be useful not only for the care-giver and the cared-for; it also comes in handy if you think you may need to rely on Medi-Cal (known as Medicaid in other states) to cover nursing home costs sometime in the near future.
According to the article, “Before Medicaid will pick up the tab for nursing-home costs, it requires applicants to recoup certain payments made to relatives over the previous five years — and use the money to pay the nursing home… But if payments to relatives are made under the terms of a written employment agreement, often called a personal-care contract, the law allows it.” While the recoupmement term is different in California, the point is well-taken.
But remember, “to pass muster with Medicaid, it’s important to have such a contract in place before the services are rendered.”
This is why it is extremely important to talk to an attorney who is well-versed in elder law and Caregiver Agreements before any contracts are signed or money changes hands.
How to Find the Perfect Senior Living Arrangement
June 3, 2010
When it comes to living arrangements, senior citizens have far more options available to them today than they ever have in the past: independent retirement communities, assisted independent communities, at-home assisted living, at-home nursing care, live-in nursing homes… the list can go on and on. Having all these options available is almost certain to make it easier to eventually find the right living arrangement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the search itself will be easier. In fact, having so many options and facilities to consider can often make the search that much more confusing.
The search for the right living arrangement—either for yourself or for an aging family member—can be much easier if you know ahead of time the right questions to ask and the important things to look for. This article in U.S. News and World Report shares 9 things to look for in your search for an assisted living facility, including:
- Making sure the facility is licensed
- Ensuring the facility’s financial stability
- Getting referrals
- Making visits to assess the facility’s staff
- Asking what current residents have to say
- Considering whether it can meet not only your current but also your future needs
- Asking about payment options (including Medicaid, called “Medi-Cal” in California)
- And more
Having so many different options these days means we can hope that finding the right senior living arrangement is a much more personal—and pleasurable—task than it has been in the past. Some of the best retirement communities or nursing homes have long waiting lists, so starting your search early will improve your chances of finding the place that’s right for you. But be careful, nursing home and assisted living contracts can contain surprises and should be carefully considered; or better yet, have an attorney look at the contract for you. And, if you are finding a place for your parent or other infirm family member, try to avoid signing the contract yourself unless you plan on being financially responsible for payment. It is often better to ask you parent or loved one to sign the contract and, if they are unable to do so, then sign only as their “agent” if you have valid agency authority.
With the many choices now available there’s no reason not to have exactly the senior living situation you want and need.