The Simple Things You Can Do To Live Longer

The Simple Things You Can Do To Live Longer

With advances in medicine, technology, and life science, we are now living longer, on average, than previous generations. But simply living a longer life should not be the goal. Maintaining a healthy quality of life should be. After all, who wants to live a long life filled with sickness and ailments?

The earlier you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the better your chance of living a long, healthy life. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your lifestyle.


If you are not a smoker or tobacco user, that’s good. Make sure you don’t become one. Avoid breathing second-hand smoke whenever possible. If you are a smoker, find a way to quit. Try nicotine patches, gum, or hypnotherapy. Figure out what works for you and do it. Breath is life, and keeping your respiratory system healthy increases your lifespan.


Exercising for 30 minutes each day is imperative for longevity. The best and easiest daily exercise is walking. If you are out of shape and 30 minutes of exercise every day seems unachievable, then start with 10 minutes. As your stamina improves, increase your exercise time to 20 minutes each day. As you build up to 30 minutes of daily exercise, make sure your pace is moderate to vigorous.

Try making a routine of walking every morning. Walking will help you lose weight and gain muscle. Adding other exercises to your routine, such as swimming and weightlifting, will help you create a well-rounded exercise regimen. Joining a class can be helpful since classes are at set times, which can help you establish a routine. Talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Healthy Diet

We all know that a healthy diet plays a significant role in living a long, healthy life. There are many books and articles about which diet is the best. The best diet for you, though, is a healthy diet you can achieve and maintain. Talking with your doctor will help you choose a healthy diet that works for you.

When shopping for food at your local supermarket, keep in mind that healthier foods are generally found around the outskirts of the store. You will find fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and dairy products there. The inside aisles of supermarkets are stocked with food products, not real food. Most of these food products are so over-processed and full of chemicals that they are unhealthy.


Consuming alcohol in moderate amounts is not considered an unhealthy practice. Moderate amounts of alcohol are described as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. If you habitually consume more than a moderate amount, you should work on reducing your alcohol consumption as soon as possible. If you have not caused too much damage to your liver, it will likely heal itself.

Social Interaction

Studies show that socially interacting with other people, as well as with animals, has health benefits. Being socially active can help stave off such health issues as depression, high blood pressure, cognitive decline, and dementia. Here are some ways to add social interaction into your life:

  • Join a club that is focused on your favorite hobby
  • Take academic, artistic, or exercise classes
  • Stay in regular contact with family and friends
  • Adopt a pet
  • Get involved with your neighborhood or community

Planning for a Longer Life

If you end up living into your 80s, 90s, or beyond, make sure your financial life is healthy too. Talk with a financial adviser and an attorney experienced in estate planning and elder law to ensure you have the necessary funds to live comfortably in your later years.

Our law firm is dedicated to keeping you informed of issues that affect seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

Contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Preparing Your Family for the Unexpected

Preparing Your Family for the Unexpected

Making sure your affairs are in order in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as an accident, incapacitation, or death, is what planning for the unexpected involves. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life is uncertain and that caring for you and those you love is imperative, including legal preparedness. An elder law attorney and estate planning attorney can address your concerns and help prepare your family for the unexpected.

Elder and Estate Law

Elder law focuses on legal issues affecting elderly individuals, including health care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, and guardianship (in Louisiana callee interdictions). They help clients plan for their future needs and ensure protection in cases of incapacity or disability.

Estate law focuses on legal issues relating to the transfer of assets after an individual’s death. They help clients plan for the distribution of their assets, minimize taxes, and meet goals by creating wills, trusts, and other legal documents.

Both elder and estate law overlap significantly, particularly in end-of-life planning and long-term care. For example, an elder law attorney or an estate planning attorney can assist clients in creating a living will or power of attorney for health care decisions. A significant difference between the two legal practices is one focuses primarily on the needs of individuals while living, and the other plans the distribution of assets after an individual’s death.

Why Planning is Important

Many things can happen over your lifetime, and much of it is unexpected. But we can be aware of potential problems and prepare for uncertainty.


·       Healthcare Planning

Put a health care plan in place in the form of advance directives, such as a living will or durable health care power of attorney, ensuring your wishes are followed if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions. Your loved ones won’t have to struggle with decisions during a difficult time.

·       Financial Planning

Financial hardships happen due to emergencies, requiring additional financial resources, insurance, and more to successfully manage unexpected events.

·       Digital Planning

Ensure your legal documents have digital copies on secure networks, making important documents and information accessible online to those who have your login credentials. Keep a list of credentials in a safe place and let a person you trust know the location.

·       Estate Planning

Many individuals not only create an estate plan, but regularly update their wills, trusts, and other legal documents to ensure their wishes are carried out, and their assets receive protection in case of illness or death. Your estate planning also protects the future of your loved ones.

Legal Planning for the Unexpected

Legal planning means having your affairs in order in case of unforeseen circumstances. These are six steps to increase preparedness:

1.     Create a Will

Not enough people in America have a will. This legal document outlines your asset distribution after your death. If you already have a will, review and revise its contents to address changes.

2.     Designate Beneficiaries

You can designate beneficiaries on your bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets. Revise your beneficiary status in the event of a death, divorce, marriage, or other major life changes so you’re your asset distribution will reflect your intended beneficiaries.

3.     Create a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows someone you trust to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

4.     Create a Living Will

A living will outlines your end-of-life wishes. It includes whether you want to be kept alive through artificial means.

5.     Consider Setting up a Trust

A trust can manage and distribute your assets during your lifetime and after your death. It can minimize probate costs and protect privacy of your loved ones at your death. Furthermore, it often is a less expensive in the long run and more stress free for your heirs.

6.     Review and Update Your Plan Regularly

It’s important to review and update your plan regularly to ensure it reflects your current wishes and circumstances.

Consulting with an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney can help create and ensure your legal documents are thorough and complete. Preparing for an unexpected crisis will reduce the stress on yourself and your family members. A comprehensive legal plan that can address your desires during times of uncertainty can bring you and your loved ones peace of mind.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Financial Fraud and Abuse Against the Elderly

Financial Fraud and Abuse Against the Elderly

Each year, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports loss of assets and money from financial fraud and abuse against the elderly up to 36.5 billion dollars. And although self-reported financial exploitation occurs at higher rates than all other types of elder abuse, the NCOA believes instances of elder financial fraud and abuse are likely under-reported.

Even as the coronavirus pandemic wanes, many older adults remain socially isolated and vulnerable to financial victimization. Robocalls, emails scams, and catfishing on social media platforms, con artists bombard the elderly routinely seeking financial gain. However, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) reports that most financial exploitation cases the organization receives are from individuals known to the victims, such as relatives, caregivers, friends, and neighbors.

If you have an elderly loved one, there are signs and circumstances to watch for that can help prevent financial abuse. Typically abusers will misappropriate cash, jewelry, and other assets, often suggesting to the elder adult they must not remember where they left them. Some abusers will forge financial documents or steal a Social Security benefits check outright.

Signs of Financial Abuse

Look for instances of unusual financial activity, such as large withdrawals of cash, questionable credit card charges, and unpaid bills. Identify any recurring transactions and bank transfers your loved one does not remember approving. If they can’t recall any request, authorization, or adequately explain the circumstances, investigate the situation fully. A periodic review of an aging loved one’s credit or debit card, and bank statements will help you guard against elderly fraud.

Always be on the lookout for new helpers and indispensable “friends.” The elderly are often lonely and particularly susceptible to abusers that want to ingratiate themselves into their lives under the guise of companionship. These individuals like to work when no one else is around, making it easier to hide their exploitive behavior.

Isolating a loved one is often the first sign of financial abuse. This newfound friend may cut off regular family communications with bogus explanations, saying they are unavailable, feeling unwell, or napping with promises of a return phone call that never materializes. These exploiters will initially be very helpful, making themselves indispensable to the victim and then begin to steal from them.

But there are things that every family member can do to help protect their loved ones.

Simplifying Banking Transactions

Physical disabilities and other issues preventing an older person from driving or otherwise getting around can create vulnerabilities. For example, frailty and mobility issues can end in-person banking independence with a trusted employee. The older individual may not be adept with computers, understand how to do remote banking, or have visual impairment making financial transactions difficult on a small smartphone screen or tablet.

Automatic bill pay can help combat these problems as financial institutions and corporate entities like banks or utilities will not exploit auto bill pay. Payment can be on time without the hassle of receiving paper bills, writing checks, and sending them off, relieving enormous strain on the older person.

Watching Out for Cognitive Decline

Dementias such as Alzheimer’s, which is prevalent, can create many financial problems as cognitive decline leads to a loss of financial acumen. Many elderly adults live with undiagnosed mental issues increasing the opportunity for exploitation. Unscrupulous friends, neighbors, and even family members often try to exert undue influence over cognitively impaired loved ones.

Sensitive private information like Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords must be closely guarded by one trusted individual to help with money management tasks. Limiting access to this crucial information is a best practice to protect an elder adult.

Vetting Delivery Services

The pandemic may have families relying on services when they used to provide the help themselves. House cleaning, meal preparation, errands, and even picking up prescription medications are all available services, and some ask for cash payments. Cash for services rendered to the elderly gives nefarious individuals the opportunity to exploit financially.

Estate Planning and Elder Care Attorneys

The most direct way to protect against elder financial abuse is to meet with their estate planning attorney to have a trusted individual named a durable financial power of attorney. This individual can then oversee their loved one’s finances with full access to facilitate, transact, and protect assets. Naming a financial power of attorney generally can help an elder adult feel a great sense of relief. Still, any cash in the hands of an aging loved one needs to be monitored and their home closely guarded to prevent theft.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Costs Associated with Second Marriages

Costs Associated with Second Marriages

Most people wouldn’t think of losing their assets to pay for their new spouse’s serious illness when they get married for a second time (or more). But that could happen. Costs for long-term care have been rising significantly for years and continue to grow. Studies show that 70% of Americans will need some form of long-term care. Which can last for three years or longer. It is important to be aware of the costs associated with second marriages.

Paying for Long-Term Care While Protecting Assets

If one spouse becomes ill, the assets of both spouses are, by and large, required to be spent on the ill spouse’s care before Medicaid benefits become available. This could be a big problem. Especially if the money that the healthy spouse had saved for their children’s inheritances goes to pay for the ill spouse’s care instead.

With careful planning, this need not happen. Making financial arrangements in advance can protect the estates of both spouses to ensure they can retain the assets they brought with them to the marriage.

Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance

Medicaid rules allow the healthy spouse to keep an allowance of a certain amount for their benefit. This is known as the Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). But many find that the CSRA is too small to permit the healthy spouse to maintain their standard of living, pay for their retirement, and still have something for their children to inherit.

Any planning or shifting of assets must be done very carefully and only after consulting with an attorney experienced with Medicaid planning. Medicaid heavily penalizes transfers of assets made as gifts.

Medicaid Planning

Assets can be protected, though, by using strategies that are permitted by the Medicaid rules. Some, or all, of the healthy spouse’s assets could buy a Medicaid-compliant annuity. This would provide an income stream for the healthy spouse that will not be deemed available to pay for the ill spouse’s care.

In turn, the assets of the ill spouse could be transferred to people they trust, such as a trustee, an agent for financial affairs, a family member, or a beneficiary. That kind of transfer may be subject to a penalty, depending on when the transfer is made and when long-term care benefits are received. Planning well in advance, at least five years, helps mitigate Medicaid penalties.

There are also long-term care insurance products available to cover the costs of long-term care services. Which everyone should consider when newly married and while they are still reasonably young and healthy.

The best strategy of all, though, is to consult an attorney experienced with Medicaid as soon as possible. The sooner you start planning, the more options you have and the more money you can save. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you prepare for your future.

Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses. Also, the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Caregiving Stress Among the Sandwich Generation

Caregiving Stress Among the Sandwich Generation

The sandwich generation is people who are caring for their aging parents along with their own children. You probably feel sandwiched between the older generation and the younger one. It is more likely that you feel pulled in multiple directions while trying to meet the needs of the two generations of family members. According to the Pew Research Center, about a quarter of US adults in 2022 are part of this sandwich generation. It is important to be aware of caregiving stress among the sandwich generation.

Though multi-generational care has existed for millennia, we are seeing an increase of the middle generation simultaneously caring for the older generation and the younger generation. This is due to people living longer and needing more help later in life and the middle generation waiting longer to have children. The result is instead of the older generation providing help with the youngest generation, they are needing help while the youngest generation is too young to care for themselves. This situation puts extra burdens and pressures on the middle generation.

Financial Cost to the Sandwich Generation

Caring for two generations of family members comes with costs, including financial costs. Even if your parents have enough money to meet their needs, you may have to forfeit work time to give unpaid time to caring for their needs and your children’s needs. Most appointments, for seniors and minor children alike, are during business hours, which means you have to take time away from work to shuttle family members to and from appointments as well as other activities.

Some members of the sandwich generation have had to put their careers on hold so they can simultaneously care for older and younger relatives. Some have had to give up full-time jobs and take part-time jobs. Reducing your income early or midway through a career can have long-lasting negative effects. You will have less money saved for retirement, large purchases, and emergencies. This is also true for having enough money to cover short-term expenses.

Emotional Cost to the Sandwich Generation

Raising children is a big commitment and can add enough stress to your life as it is. Add to that the responsibility for an elderly parent and possibly a job and you quickly run out of time for anything else, including you. This can mean that you give up taking proper care of yourself. You may end up forfeiting your social life, hobbies, exercise, or even much-needed sleep. These sacrifices can erode your ability to effectively deal with the stressful situation you are in.

Solutions for the Sandwich Generation

Juggling the time, energy, and economics of caring for two generations of relatives can seriously deplete your reserves. Finding ways to meet each person’s needs, including your own, is crucial to making the situation work. Though each family’s situation is unique and will likely require a unique solution, here are some things to consider trying that could help.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it is from another relative or a family friend.
  • Look into places you can leave your elderly relative for a few hours or a whole day, such as adult daycare, a community center, a public library, or a community recreation center.
  • The same holds true for your children. Look for daycare options and after-school activities for them.
  • Plan as far in advance as possible for scheduling conflicts and financial expenses.
  • Get your elderly relative to do their estate planning and elder law planning at least five years before they may need long-term care. Doing this can allow them to qualify for Medicaid or other government benefits when they will need them the most. Such benefits could help pay for long-term care needs, thus freeing up your time for other things.

Even though you may see taking care of your family members as your highest priority, keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself as well. In the same way flight attendants tell passengers to put their oxygen masks on before helping others with their masks, you can’t take care of others if you are unable to take care of yourself.

Our law firm is dedicated to keeping you informed of issues that affect seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses. Also, the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Providing Support for Adults with Disabilities

The number of Americans with disabilities is growing, and so is providing support for adults with disabilities. Parents planning for the future well-being of their adult children is a responsive, ongoing process. A Journal of the American Medical Association reports the life expectancy of adults with Down Syndrome has increased from 25 in 1983 to 60 in 2020. The same study cites that those with cerebral palsy, the most common motor disability of US children, may often live into their 50s.

The ever-increasing life expectancies of adults with disabilities mean that comprehensive special needs planning requires short and long-term planning to lay the foundation of five key elements to ensure a successful support system:

  1. Vision
  2. Living Accommodation
  3. Government Resources
  4. Private Financial Resources
  5. Legal Needs


How do you envision your adult child’s life after you’re gone? As you define and refine your vision to the extent possible, you should involve your child in the process. It’s important to focus on the strengths and abilities of the adult child, not just the challenges of their disabilities. This involvement helps promote self-esteem and independence to the highest degree possible.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

Although this letter is not a legal document, it provides key instructions and information about your child’s routines, preferences, and wishes. The LOI can and should be extremely detailed, including identifying caregivers, medical information and providers, and other individuals in their lives who may be a good fit to care for or support your child. Reviewing and updating the letter at least every two years or when significant changes occur is good practice.

Supported Decision-Making

If your adult child is capable and in charge of decision-making, selecting a team of trusted advisors is still important. This team may include family members, professionals, friends, and community services who all participate in your adult child’s success. The National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making has information about the right to make choices by state.

Living Accommodation

Where your adult child will live depends on several factors, including their disability type and available financial resources. If your child currently lives in your home, don’t wait until you die to have them move into and experience a new home. Moving can be a tough experience while you are alive but catastrophic when you are gone.

Housing Options

  • Your home – It’s great if you can leave your residence to your child in a special needs trust as long as it also contains enough money to cover ongoing property maintenance, taxes, and other costs.
  • Another home – You might purchase a townhouse or condo for your child and hold the property in a special needs trust.
  • Section 8 vouchers – This federal program provides housing in the community to low-income people; however, wait lists can be long.
  • Group homes – Adults with disabilities can use private money or Medicaid payments to live in a group home. In some cases, this living situation also has counselors and other staff that can help residents live as independently as possible.
  • If assisted living is a requirement, a special needs attorney can help identify options.

Government Resources

Creating a schedule of the individuals, services, and organizations that have become your adult child’s support system. And how they are financed makes your vision for your child a reality. You can be creative, and pair speech, physical, and occupational therapists, as your child’s abilities develop more fully. Much of your child’s resources throughout adult life will depend on the continuation of government programs that provide the support and services they need.

Government Assistance Programs

It’s wise to involve a special needs attorney to explain how to properly manage these resources. In order to preserve your child’s access to government programs.

A person with developmental disabilities can often access the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Which guarantees a minimum income to qualifying low-income recipients. A representative payee can assist those individuals who are unable to manage their finances.

To be eligible for Medicaid benefits, the recipient must have a limited income and assets (assets not protected by ABLE or Special Needs Trust accounts) and covers a broad range of health care costs.

Maintaining eligibility standards and managing these benefits may be more than your adult child with disabilities can manage. Identifying a reliable candidate and creating the structure that legally permits them to facilitate these programs is crucial to your child’s future well-being.

Many US military personnel have experienced serious physical and mental health problems since serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A large percentage of these service members are unmarried and under thirty. For parents of veterans with disabilities, look into the Veterans Disability Compensation program.

There is also a benefits program for veterans with permanent disabilities, which is needs-based. The Veterans Disability Pension has eligibility requirements based on your adult child’s assets and income. A veterans specialist or disability attorney can create a special needs trust to ensure your adult child can qualify.

Many other government programs are available to help your adult child with disabilities have a successful future. A special needs attorney can explain more about discrimination protections outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Ticket to Work Program, and more.

Private Financial Resources

Parents of children with special needs have additional planning requirements to ensure the safety and success of their child’s life when they are no longer alive to oversee that child’s well-being. Creating a realistic strategy is key to success. Begin with creating a general framework with a special needs lawyer and then fill in the financial details. Financial resources may include life insurance policies and other investment strategies.such as funding an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. The cash flow these accounts create will allow your adult child to continue living a life of safety, purpose, and impact after you are gone.

Additionally, your lawyer can create a special needs trust appropriate for your family’s financial situation and child’s needs. This trust type provides additional monies to your adult child without them losing eligibility for government benefits. There are various special needs trust types, including:

  • Third-Party Special or Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT)
  • First-Party Special Needs Trust or Self-Settled SNT
  • Pooled Special Needs Trusts

Legal Needs

There are several legal tools that parents can use to create a lifelong plan for their adult child with disabilities, including:

  • Guardianship
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • Durable Power of Attorney

It’s important to consult with an attorney who has experience with special needs and disability law. In order to determine the best option for your adult child’s future specific needs and situation.


Planning for your child with special needs is customized to your family circumstances and your child’s unique needs. Legal guidance is critical because missteps can lead to ineligibility for crucial government benefits programs. To provide for your child’s future success after you are gone, speak to a special needs or disability attorney and begin your proactive planning.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.


Common Mistakes in Special Needs Planning

Common Mistakes in Special Needs Planning

Statistics show that 26% of American adults live with some form of disability–  more than you might think. However, federal and state benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are available for persons with special needs. These benefits are “needs-based,” which means the amount of assets and income the beneficiary can have are very limited.

When planning for a loved one with special needs, you must ensure they don’t receive money or other assets thatcould cause disqualification from their government benefits. Here are some common mistakes in special needs planning.


Gifts of money or assets from well-intentioned family members or friends can disqualify a loved one with special needs from government benefits. This would cauwe their countable assets to exceed the acceptable limit. After getting disqualified, it can be difficult to requalify for benefits. It’s better to have gifts go to a special needs trust or a similar financial planning tool set up for the benefit of the recipient.


Some parents believe if they disinherit their child with special needs, that child’s siblings will help take care of them for the remainder of their life. This plan puts a lot of responsibility on the other siblings and can fall apart for many reasons. If the inheritance is in the siblings’ names, it could be lost due to divorce, lawsuits, bankruptcy, or irresponsible spending. Additionally, Louisiana’s forced heirship laws can foil such a plan. Forced heirship requires that a special needs child (or grandchild in some circumstances) must received a certain amount of a decedent’s estate after he or she dies.

Lack of a Trust

Failing to create a special needs trust for your loved one with special needs is a common mistake.  Government benefits are used for basic living expenses, such as housing, food, and medical care. Therefore, a person with special needs usually won’t have enough money for other expenses, such as travel and hobbies. Creating a special needs trust can make funds available for expenses that government benefits don’t cover.


Similar to gift-giving from family members and friends, donations from a crowdfunding campaign can negatively affect your loved one with special needs. By pushing their countable assets over the acceptable limit. If you want to create a crowdfunding campaign to benefit your loved one with special needs, find a way to keep the funds out of your loved one’s name. Again, a special needs trust could be a good option.

Consult an Attorney

The best way to avoid making mistakes that could cause your loved one with special needs to lose their government benefits is to consult with an attorney experienced in elder law and estate planning. They will be able to help you find the best solution for your particular situation.

Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting persons with special needs. We help you and your loved ones plan for the best possible future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Helping Retirees Offset Inflation

Helping Retirees Offset Inflation

Inflation will continue to rise well into 2023 and beyond without significant course corrections. Bankrate’s Third-Quarter Economic Indicator poll projects inflation will be more significant than previous expectations over the coming twelve to eighteen months. Even in the best economic outcomes for 2023, maximizing allowable benefits to offset inflationary pressures is a smart strategy.

Rising prices may create a gap between your income plans and real bill-paying requirements. Withdrawing higher amounts from retirement savings can affect your retirement plan’s long-term sustainability. When planning bill pay strategies, remember prices typically don’t rise evenly across all sectors. Medical care costs have risen significantly in recent decades yet rose slower than overall inflation at 4 percent in the past year. However, fuel, food, and utility costs are up sharply for the same period.

Targeting a level of growth that exceeds an already accounted-for level of inflation is part of a good retirement strategy. Still, it can’t account for short-term excessive inflationary pressures. Taking distributions in the short term must remain in balance with maintaining long-term investment growth to preserve retirement income. There are steps you can take to achieve this balance.

Budget Review and Adjustment to Short-Term Spending

Finding ways to cut costs is the easiest way to avoid taking increased distributions or asset spending. Conserve energy use in your home and group errands that require car transportation to like locations to reduce gasoline use. In inflationary times, trimming discretionary expenses like dining out, vacations, or home renovation can help your budget. If you are already tightening your budget with these techniques, you may consider picking up some part-time work to close the income gap without upending your retirement planning.

Ensure Proper Wealth Allocations

Historically, stocks averaged annual returns to stay ahead of inflation. A balance of cash, bonds, ETFs, value stocks with dividends, and market sector investment rotations help maintain financial stability in uncertain times.

The S&P 500 is the lowest in a decade, decreasing over 17 percent. However, the Great Recession of 2007-9 saw the index down 38.4%. Historic market trends indicate that bullish investors will return to the stock market by mid-2023. Not assessing historical trends and re-adjusting your portfolio can make you miss a big chunk of the recovery and potential gains.

This graph of model asset allocations from T. Rowe Price’s investment strategy for retirees can help guide retirement investment strategy by general percentages.

T.Rowe Price

Maintain an Appropriate Stash of Cash

Managing short-term income with long-term growth makes a regular review of your plans necessary. Investing is never a set-and-forget process since personal needs change, corporations’ profitability fluctuates, and market realities change according to economic conditions. Particularly in the equities market, investing trends cycle by market sector. Even though inflation will reduce the spending power of cash on hand, cash availability is crucial for those unavoidable and unforeseen expenses.

Generally, a healthy cash position can cover one to two years of expenses in early retirement and keep you from withdrawing from your longer-term investments. This is particularly true when periods of inflation coincide with the declining market value of your investments.

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

Work longer to obtain the maximum Social Security will pay based on your best thirty-five years of income. Earning more money to pay into the system will yield a larger payout (up to a point) when you claim your benefits. Delay your benefits up to age seventy, and you will receive a higher monthly payment.

During inflationary times, Social Security benefits automatically adjust to ensure purchasing power adjusts for inflation. If you have not yet claimed your benefits, remember the COLA maintains your benefits to adjust for inflation. When you are ready to claim your benefits, there are options depending on if you are married or divorced. Spouses and ex-spouses must carefully consider scenarios, particularly regarding survivor’s benefits, when one spouse predeceases the other. Divorced from a ten-year marriage for a minimum of two years and still single? You may be entitled to file for benefits based on an ex-spouse’s earnings. Bankrate reviews scenarios for Social Security spousal benefits.

Consider Inflation as You Update Broader Financial Plans

Effective retirement strategies rely on accurate estimates of household spending and adaptation to new norms. This number will change yearly, particularly in an inflationary environment. Your retirement strategy will require adjustments depending on personal circumstances, market conditions affecting your investments, and prevailing inflation rates.

As retirement planning links closely to your overall estate and legacy planning, it is crucial to coordinate the two. An estate planning attorney or an elder law attorney can help to ensure any trusts you create will have sustainable funding and make other recommendations about retirement plans and how they affect your estate planning goals.

Working with a financial professional or using financial planning tools while creating your estate plan can provide insights. As inflation continues to present economic challenges for household expenditures, it’s important to review your existing retirement plans regularly, as you do for your estate plan. Ultimately, an appropriate allocation in stocks that receive a regular review in combination with managed spending and flexibility provide the most important tools retirees

Contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 to speak to one of our experienced estate attorneys. We can work with your financial advisor to develop the best financial solutions for retirement.

A Comparison of Elder Law and Estate Planning

A Comparison of Elder Law and Estate Planning

You might wonder what estate planning and elder law are and how they differ as you plan for the future. Both financially and in terms of health care. Estate planning and elder law also have some similarities. A comparison of elder law and estate planning will be addressed below.

Even though these two types of law are for different stages in life, they are often handled at the same time. This is because many people wait till later in life to start their estate planning process. When an older person creates an estate plan, they may also need some elder law counseling. To better understand the two areas of the legal field, we will look at the solutions they provide. As well as the questions they answer, and how they can work together.

Estate Planning

The main goal of estate planning is to choose legal documents that will determine what will happen to you and your assets once you have passed away or become incapacitated. An estate planning attorney will help you make important decisions, such as:

  • Who makes medical and financial decisions if you are unable
  • Who is allowed access to your medical records
  • How assets are distributed after you are gone
  • Who cares for minor children if you become incapacitated or die
  • Who manages money for your minor children if you are no longer able
  • How to handle your funeral arrangements and burial

Durable Powers of Attorney

By using a general durable power of attorney document, you can name a person, or persons, to make financial decisions on your behalf either immediately or  if you are no longer able to do so. Expressing your end-of-life wishes requires designating a person to make healthcare decisions for you by completing a health care directive. By completing a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form, you will give your health care providers permission to share your medical records with the people listed on your HIPAA form.

Wills and Trusts

In your will, you can name the beneficiaries of your estate as well as a guardian to care for any minor children you may have at the time of your death. You can also name a person to manage the money you leave for their benefit. Some people create a trust, or trusts, to hold their assets during their lifetime and after death. They then sign a pour-over will that moves assets into their trust(s) upon death.

Elder Law

Whereas estate planning focuses mostly on what happens after a person dies, the area of elder law focuses on a person’s last years or months. This can include planning for long-term care and applying for government assistance, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits, if applicable. Using elder law tools and strategies, an elder law attorney can help you find ways to preserve your assets while preparing to apply for benefits.

Like estate planning, it is best to start the elder law planning process well in advance. To qualify for benefits, such as Medicaid, you may have to sell or transfer ownership of some assets years before applying for benefits. Gifting or transferring assets out of your name must be done according to government requirements, so applying for benefits can be a complicated process. Hiring a skilled attorney can make the difference between receiving benefits quickly or not at all.

Since seniors are at a greater risk for discrimination, neglect, and abuse, elder law attorneys can help seniors and their family members recognize when a senior’s rights are being violated and take legal action to counter and remedy the situation.

Tying Estate Planning and Elder Law Together

It is best to start your estate planning process as soon as possible. The decisions involved could come at any time due to an accident or an illness. Planning for end-of-life care and the benefits associated with it may come later in life, but preparing well in advance lets you legally reduce assets for an extended period to qualify for benefits, like Medicaid.

Even younger families just starting their estate planning process may look at elder law planning at the same time for senior family members’ needs. Some estate planning tools, such as trusts, are often used when helping a parent plan for Medicaid. Even other government benefits for long-term care expenses. An attorney experienced in both estate planning and elder law can advise you in these areas. They will help you navigate complicated processes.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. However, it is of upmost importance to know the comparison of elder law and estate planning. For legal advice, contact our Ruston, LA office at (318) 255-1760 to speak to one of our experienced estate attorneys.

How to Cover the Cost of In-Home Care

How to Cover the Cost of In-Home Care

We all want to know how to cover the cost of in-home care. It brings up several decisions that need to be made. Including where your home will be. We may ask ourselves, “Am I able to remain in my home independently, or do I need assistance?” If the answer is daily assistance, we have three main options.

  1. Move in with or receive daily assistance from a loved one
  2. Relocate to assisted living or a nursing home
  3. Pay for in-home care services

Of these three options, in-home care is the most desired. However, it comes with a cost, as there are strict Medicare and Medicaid limitations to benefits that cover in-home care services. However, despite the high price and limitations, many people are finding ways to afford this more desirable option.

Don’t completely write off Medicaid.

Medicaid coverage varies greatly depending on the state you live in and may cover long-term in-home care if you qualify for a waiver. There may be a waitlist for benefits, so the sooner you apply, the better.

Use your veteran’s benefits.

An often-overlooked veterans’ benefit is Aid and Attendance, offering help with out-of-pocket expenses. Veterans who have served a minimum of one day during wartime, were on active duty for a minimum of 90 days, and honorably discharged may be eligible for this benefit. If qualified, the veteran receives a tax-free, monthly cash payment to use for care. For veterans and their families, this can help offset the cost of in-home care significantly.

Your life insurance policies may help.

Those with life insurance policies may learn that coverage may apply to in-home care. Some life insurance policies have a feature known as “accelerated benefits.” This feature allows the policyholder to use the insurance within the policy before death occurs. Typically, accelerated benefits are for those who have disabilities related to chronic conditions or require ongoing or long-term in-home care. If your dependents are not relying on the money, you may consider using accelerated benefits to cover the cost associated with in-home care.

Consider a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages were created to help seniors live at home for as long as possible. Therefore, if your home is paid off or a significant amount of equity has been accumulated, a reverse mortgage may be an excellent option to cover the cost of in-home care. A reverse mortgage gives seniors the opportunity to take out home equity in the form of payments or as a lump sum.

Reverse mortgage qualifications include the following:

  • You must be 62 years of age or older
  • The home must be owned — either completely paid off or with a minimal balance
  • The issuing bank appraises the house to determine the value based on the senior’s age and payout

Take advantage of annuities.

An annuity combines personal investment with an ongoing insurance plan. It is a custom contract that an insurance company issues, turning an investor’s premium into an income stream that is fixed and guaranteed. After the investment has matured, the policyholder can begin withdrawing.

Many people only see annuities as a way to help seniors grow their money and assist with living expenses. However, the income earned from the annuity can very well be enough to cover the cost of in-home care.

In-home care is an option!

In-home is the most desired option for those who require daily assistance. Not only does it take away the obligation for loved ones to become caretakers, but it also enhances the quality of life for seniors and allows them to live in the most comfortable place- their home.

Despite the high cost associated with in-home care, this option may be more financially feasible than many realize. It may take some creative thinking and proper planning, but it is possible.

Elder law attorneys have the knowledge to combine estate planning with financial planning and offer guidance for long-term care options, including in-home care. We invite you to contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 to speak with one of our professionals today about Medicaid, VA benefits, and long-term care expenses.