Ask An Attorney: How can I help my child with special needs thrive?

Question
I am a new mom of a son with Down syndrome.  Our pediatrician’s office gave me some information about resources available to our family and I have become involved with our local Down Syndrome Association chapter.  I met some other parents who have shared some suggestions, but I want to make sure I do everything possible to allow my son to thrive.  What should I be considering as he grows up?

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Making Your Medicaid Application Easier

If you or someone you know has needed long-term care or nursing home care, you have probably heard horror stories about Medicaid applications.  Unfortunately, reports of how difficult, lengthy, and burdensome applying for long-term care Medicaid are often all too true.  Long-term care (nursing home, assisted living, and in-home care) Medicaid has strict financial limits, and requires providing up to five years of financial history.  The caseworkers at the county Department of Jobs and Family Services must thoroughly review your case to confirm your eligibility.  This takes a tremendous amount of time, which can often result in Medicaid applications taking many months to process.  But there are ways to make your case easier to get through.

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The Family Story Process

Before Sharing Your Concerns with the School District, Create a Non-Emotional Timeline

Different family members have different versions of the same story. Grandma may tell a
very different tale from Mom or Dad. My job is to listen for the underlying thread, and pinpoint
the base of the concern, helping them to see things through each other’s perspective. Then, I give
families the assignment of going home and creating a Non-Emotional Timeline.

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Nursing Home Medicaid Applications: What You Need to Know About Eligibility

If you or a loved one need nursing home care or long-term care in the home, the thought of applying for Medicaid to secure that care is daunting. Try Googling “Medicaid Application” and you’ll find thousands of results that are essentially worthless. Here are some points to know, if you are faced with applying for long-term Medicaid to pay for care:

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What Can My Power of Attorney Do for Me?

A durable power of attorney for finances is an essential part of every estate plan. A POA document allows you (the Principal) to give permission to another person (your agent) to act on your behalf. Your agent can act and speak for you when it has become difficult or impossible for you to do so yourself. A properly done POA document avoids the need for a guardianship or other court intervention if you lose the legal capacity to handle your affairs. However, not all POA documents are the same. A POA that lacks certain provisions can mean your agent will not be able to carry out your wishes at a crucial moment. This post discusses some common issues with POA documents, and how to decide whether yours needs updated.

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Dementia and the Importance of Planning for Your Future.

November is Alzheimer’s awareness month, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about dementia and the importance of planning for your future. First and foremost, some forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. We have all misplaced our keys or put our wallet in a different place, forgetting momentarily where we left it. When forgetfulness becomes more serious, losing your way while driving in an area you visit frequently; not taking medication because you forgot if you took it or not, it starts to affect your normal daily routine and it’s time to follow up with your doctor.

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How to Protect Your Home in a Medicaid Application

For most people, the home is their most important asset, for many reasons, but primarily because it might be their largest valued asset financially and sentimentally. Whether you want the home to stay in the family or want the value of the home to pass on to family, this is a discussion I often have with clients who are contemplating a Medicaid application.

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Revocable Trust or Irrevocable Trust: What is the Best Option for Me?

Trusts are great tools for you to pass assets to your heirs, whether that be to children, other family members, or charities. However, not all trusts are created equally. Sometimes, we use revocable trusts for one client, while another client established an irrevocable trust. When does it make sense to use a revocable trust compared to an irrevocable trust?

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Mental Health is Physical Health Too

As we contemplate the ambiguous term “Mental Health,” it is important to recognize that our mental health is just as important as, and even an integral part of, our physical health.  There is a cornucopia of studies that link mental health to the way we feel physically.  There is a reason why we feel better after a long walk, a hard workout, or even a day of doing yard work.  In some cases, exercise is used to supplement or even replace medication in treating mental health issues – think: runner’s high.  Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, and even Schizophrenia are all mental health diagnoses that have been successfully treated, in part, by exercise.  

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