Caregiver Mental Health During COVID-19

AARP recently released findings of a study that analyzed over 236,000 cases of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. The study indicates that up to one-third of survivors suffer from psychiatric or neurological illnesses within six months of infection, with 34% of those further diagnosed with mental health or neurological disorders. The most common conditions were mood and anxiety disorders, but it also identified a higher rate of insomnia, dementia, and even encephalitis.

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Surrogate Decision Making in Mental Health Cases

In many respects, those who suffer from mental health issues fall through the cracks the most – whether that be cracks in the medical system, in public benefits, or in estate planning and guardianship law. People fall through because the system is largely designed to take care of those with physical needs or severe cognitive disorders, not those who look and feel just fine on the outside. Mental health issues are difficult because it isn’t clear when an individual is deemed incapacitated, and without that clarity, they have the right to be free from Probate Court jurisdiction from a Guardianship and can easily revoke or amend a power of attorney to remove someone that is irritating them in that moment. Unfortunately, it’s in those moments that they need surrogate decision makers the most.

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Generational Differences Call for Differences in Estate Planning

Whether you’re in your 40’s or your 80’s, it’s never too early or late to start thinking about creating an estate plan, and different generations can have specific ideas and approaches when it comes to their estate planning. Baby Boomers, those born generally between 1946 and 1964, are often characterized as having a strong work ethic and whose identities are intertwined with their job, they prefer structure, discipline and are very good team players.  Generation X, individuals born between 1965 and 1976 are known as those who “work smart, not hard,” and do a relatively good job of balancing work with family time. Millennials and Gen Y, those born between 1977 and 1994, are fiercely independent and are concerned with ethics and social responsibility. 

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Paying For Long-Term Care

Long-term care is not just nursing home care, like many of us think. I often speak about the “Elder Care Continuum”, which describes what many of us and our loved ones will or are experiencing as we age or face health challenges. In the beginning you may have little to no real limitations, reside in your home with no cost of care, and have private insurance through Medicare and various compliments. As you continue to age and some health issues arise, perhaps you’ll need to pay for some in-home assistance, which may be covered or paid for by VA Benefits, community services, or private caretakers. As your needs become greater and limitations increase, perhaps a move into a retirement community becomes more appropriate, funded by Social Security and retirement income.

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Thoughtful Estate Planning Brings Protection and Peace of Mind

Estate planning begins with an exercise of the mind – an uncomfortable internal question and answer session.  What happens to my assets when I die?  Who will manage my money if I’m in the hospital or a nursing home?  For many, answering these questions is difficult and uncomfortable.  Sometimes people don’t have relatives to leave their assets with or to name as a power of attorney.  Sometimes they have relatives, but they can’t trust them or don’t get along with them.

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Elder Law Talks Episode 3

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to continue our Elder Law Talks series. Our short videos are designed to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s episode: Parents of an Adult Child with Disabilities – What Happens When You Need Care Yourself?

 

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Hickman & Lowder Introduces Special Needs Insights

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to share its Special Needs Insights series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s insight: Special Needs Planning

In our first installment of Special Needs Insights, Attorney David Banas stresses the need for a vision, taking small steps and building your plan from there..

 

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Hickman & Lowder Presents Elder Law Talks, Do I Need a Will?

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to present its new Elder Law Talks series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s episode: Do I Need a Will?

In our first episode of Elder Law Talks, Attorney David Banas addresses the one question he is asked every time he meets a potential client ..

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Now That Mom is on Medicaid, How Can We Protect Dad’s Assets?

Often, when working with clients on getting a plan in place for Mom, applying for Medicaid and getting her settled in the nursing home, I am asked, “Now what do I do to plan for and protect Dad?” We’ve preserved the home and maximized income and resources for him, but now what?  Is he protected if anything else may happen?

First, be sure to put the house, the car and all of the bank accounts in Dad’s name alone.  This ensures that when Mom dies, there is nothing in her name that the state can claim through estate recovery.  Second, re-build Dad’s estate plan and remove Mom as beneficiary on his Will and any other accounts. This protects Mom should Dad die before her, as you want to avoid Mom inheriting anything which would interrupt her Medicaid eligibility.  You also want to have surrogate decision makers in place (power of attorney for health care and finances) in case Dad’s health and/or cognition declines.

Finally, talk with an experienced elder law attorney about the possibility of a second round of asset protection planning, depending on Dad’s health.  Perhaps steps could be taken to ensure the home will be fully preserved even in the event that Dad would need nursing home care in the future.

Good planning never ends, it just proceeds to the next phase.

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