During May, we recognize National Elder Law Month. Many elder law attorneys across America will be hosting free webinars and publishing other guidance on how best to help aging parents, so it may be the perfect time to sit down with your older relatives and discuss their needs. Do they have an estate plan in place? If so, has it been updated recently? Have they thought about whether long term care needs may be imminent? These are all questions to ask your parents that can help you help your parents protect a lifetime of savings. Let us discuss other steps you can take to help your parents.

  1. Meet with An Elder Law Attorney. Ask your parents to research elder law attorneys in their local area or help them by doing some research on your own. Schedule appointments with a few so that your parents can meet them to see who they feel most comfortable with. A qualified elder law attorney can help your parents come up with an estate plan that protects a lifetime of savings or update their current estate plan to reflect their current needs.
  1. Consider Long Term Care Needs. If it looks like either or both of your parents will need nursing home care, it may be time to look into different ways to protect their assets from being completely spent down before they can qualify for Medicaid. Common strategies may include transferring assets to other family members prior to the 5-year lookback period before they need care, so it may be best to think about this earlier than you may have thought you needed to.
  1. Establish an Irrevocable Trust. If your parents do not feel comfortable transferring their assets to specific recipients now, an attorney can counsel you on whether an irrevocable trust might be a good fit. Their assets would go into the trust to be sheltered from the Medicaid calculation, and an independent trustee could distribute income to your parents if needed, but they would no longer be in control of the principal. The future trust beneficiaries would not be given access to the money until your parents pass away, if that is how they set up the trust.

With the substantial cost of long-term care on the horizon for so many of us, planning accordingly can be critical to helping ensure you and your loved ones get the care needed, as well as asset protection. Schedule a meeting with our office to find out more about planning for the costs of nursing home care.