Take a Moment Before Signing a Nursing Home Contract

In the scenario where your parent is no longer capable of making decisions, dressing, or eating independently and requires nursing home care. You are stressed and anxious. The nursing home puts a twenty-page contract in front of you. You wish you could flip straight to the last page and sign just to get it over with.

Don’t do it. You could be agreeing to pay thousands of dollars out of your own pocket for your loved one’s care.

Try to get your parent admitted, and before you sign the contract, bring it to an elder law attorney for review and guidance. Once your loved one has moved in, they can’t be evicted just because you want to negotiate the contract. Elder law attorneys look for wording that may not be compliant with state laws or is misleading in some way. Nursing homes want to get paid and may be deliberately vague about financial responsibility.

If you don’t have an elder law attorney, sit down and take a few deep breaths. Read the contract carefully and make a list of questions for a facility representative to answer. Ideally, that person would go through the document with you. Don’t sign until you understand.

Things to Watch Out for in a Nursing Home Contract

A nursing home should not ask you to use your own money to pay for a loved one’s care

Do not sign the contract if it requires you to pay with your own money. Carefully scrutinize any language referring to you as the responsible party, resident representative, or agent.

More language to look out for includes:

  • Co-signor
  • Guarantor
  • Personally guarantee
  • Personally liable
  • Private-pay guarantor
  • Surety
  • Individual capacity

Words like these obligate you, personally, to pay if your loved one doesn’t have the money. Don’t sign if you see something like this: “If the resident does not or cannot pay, I will pay the amount owed for residency charges, services, equipment, supplies, medication, and other charges.” The nursing home can ask you to agree – and you can refuse.

Understand that the facility can legally require you to pay nursing home bills for your loved one if you hold financial power of attorney or are a guardian. However, you are required to spend their money on their care.

When Your Loved One Runs Out of Money to Pay for Care

If your loved one lacks the money, the next step is to apply for Medicaid assistance, not dig into your own pocket. Reach out to an elder law attorney for assistance, as the eligibility requirements and application process can be a bit complex. It will be worth it to have the benefits processed quickly so they can begin sooner.

Everyone in need has the right to apply for Medicaid

The nursing home contract must not require your parent to waive their right to seek government assistance like Medicare or Medicaid, nor can it ask either of you to sign any statement that your loved one is ineligible for benefits.

If your loved one has no money to pay for care, a Medicaid application will be required. The contract may seek your permission to apply for Medicaid for you. You have the right to decline that option and seek an elder law attorney you trust to help you apply instead. Some facilities mishandle Medicaid applications, resulting in an incorrect denial of benefits and lengthy appeal process.

The Medicaid application process begins with providing all financial and medical records necessary for your loved one’s application.

Once eligible for Medicaid, Medicaid pays

If your loved one qualifies for Medicaid, the nursing home must not require an additional payment over and above the Medicaid amount determined by your state.

The nursing home must not demand that your loved one receive additional services not covered by Medicaid and evict your loved one if they decline those services. The facility should ask, in advance, whether those services are desired at a specified additional cost.

Other Considerations in a Nursing Home Contract

  • The nursing home must not require additional donations to a charity as a condition of admittance.
  • Do not agree to arbitration. If you agree, you will be giving up your right to a jury trial if a dispute arises.
  • Understand the nursing home is obligated to protect your parent’s property during their stay. However, use good judgment to safeguard valuable property by keeping it elsewhere.
  • Cross out provisions in the contract that you decline, and put your initials by the strike-outs. Also, be sure to sign the contract only as your parent’s agent. Your signature should read: “[Parent name], by [your name], power of attorney, guardian, or agent.”

To be fair to nursing homes, they are entitled to be paid, and they often have difficulty collecting legitimate debts. Facilities are forbidden from suing to take a resident’s Social Security or pension income. They must comply with strict federal consumer protection restrictions. Despite these payment hurdles, they must still protect frail and vulnerable people from all manner of harm. They also suffer public hostility, thanks to the misconduct of some bad actors.

Our elder law firm always urges cooperation with nursing home personnel if possible because their job is a difficult one. However, you and your family have the right to be protected from bad actors and confusing contract language. No matter how reputable the facility is, consulting our elder law attorneys before you sign an admission contract makes sense and avoids difficulty later.

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.

Reevaluating Your Retirement Investments: 5 Compelling Reasons

To ensure a comfortable retirement, it’s essential to reconsider your financial retirement portfolio. While you might have accumulated a substantial nest egg in a 401(k) plan, withdrawing money from it comes with significant tax planning considerations. In the early stages of a 401(k), employers match your contribution to the plan. Contributions come out of your paycheck before calculating taxes and compound every year. When you retire, however, the tax impact of a 401(k), 403(b), or traditional IRA can become significant.

Retiring at a Higher Tax Bracket

You have probably been told you’ll be in a lower tax bracket at retirement. However, many people experience the opposite. Your tax rate is expected to increase if you maintain the same standard of living, requiring the same amount of income and tax rate. With your children grown and the house paid off, substantial tax deductions are gone, which may push you into a higher tax bracket. You will pay taxes on withdrawals from your contribution plan(s) annually, whether the money comes from dividends, capital gains, or your contributions. That money will be taxed at your income tax rate at the time of withdrawal. Currently, the top marginal income tax rate is 37 percent, and considering the US deficit, that tax rate could increase in time.

Double Taxation

Unless you have a Roth IRA, distributions from your retirement plans count against you when calculating what percentage of your Social Security is subject to tax. The result is paying more taxes on your retirement plan distributions and Social Security income. You also pay more taxes from capital gains, dividends, and interest from your investments.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

It can be frustrating and expensive if you neglect to make your minimum required distributions. You must withdraw funds from your retirement fund accounts when the IRS deems it necessary. Even if you want to leave the money in the account, as of 2023, the IRS will schedule your withdrawals when you reach age 73. There are stiff penalties for not taking out the required minimum distribution. You may pay an additional 25 percent tax. If you correct the shortfall during a two-year window, it could reduce to 10 percent.

Leaving a 401(k) or IRA to a Spouse

If you’re married, a 401(k) or IRA is the worst account to leave to your surviving spouse. No one wants to die without leaving their spouse financially secure, but these two financial vehicles are fully taxable accounts. Upon your passing, your spouse changes their tax filing status from married filing jointly to single. That takes their tax obligation from the lowest to the highest bracket — probably not exactly what you had in mind.

Both your 401(k) and IRA plans are subject to tax law changes. Every time Congress convenes a session, there is the possibility that increases in taxes on your retirement plans can occur. It’s highly unlikely that your taxes won’t increase. The US debt continues to grow at an alarming rate, and tax increases are used to gain some level of financial control.

Get together with a tax planner to identify ways to move your retirement funds into better financial retirement vehicles. Sometimes conversion can cost a bit of money upfront, but in the long run, you’ll be far better off with regard to your retirement tax obligations.

Contact an Estate Planning or Elder Law Attorney

Connect your tax planner with your estate planning attorney. Retirement and tax planning are heavily tied to money and property being managed, preserved, and eventually distributed to your heirs. Our estate planning and elder law attorneys look at changing tax laws and retirement goals to maximize your family legacy. We also discuss preparing for potential long-term care expenses and how they could affect your retirement income. Costs for health care services continue to rise, and you don’t want to lose significant income to medical emergencies.

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.

The Importance of Trusts as Estate Planning Tools

Estate planning is a crucial process that entails the distribution of assets and property after the passing of a loved one. Though many people are familiar with wills as a means of distributing assets, trusts can be even more effective.

A trust is a legal arrangement where a person, known as the grantor, settlor, or trustmaker, transfers their assets to a trustee who manages and distributes those assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms specified in the trust agreement. Some people shy away from trusts due to the extra cost, but they can save time and money in the long run. Trusts offer several significant benefits that make them essential components of any comprehensive estate plan.

Probate Avoidance

One of the primary advantages of trusts is their ability to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s will is validated before distributing assets. It can be a lengthy and costly process, subject to court supervision and public scrutiny.

By using a trust, your estate can bypass probate entirely, ensuring a faster, more efficient transfer of assets to your intended beneficiaries. This not only saves time and money but also maintains privacy, as trust documents are not public records like probated wills.


Another important aspect of trusts is their flexibility and customization options. Trusts can be tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the grantor. For example, if the grantor has minor children or beneficiaries who are not yet responsible enough to handle their inheritances, a trust can be created to provide for their financial wellbeing until they reach a certain age or milestone. This allows the grantor to exercise control over how and when the assets are distributed, ensuring their loved ones are taken care of in the best possible way.

Asset Protection

Trusts are also valuable tools for protecting assets from creditors and lawsuits. By transferring assets to an irrevocable trust, the grantor effectively removes them from their personal ownership, making them less susceptible to potential legal claims or judgments. This can be particularly advantageous for people in high-risk professions or with substantial wealth. Additionally, trusts can safeguard assets in situations where the grantor becomes incapacitated, ensuring that a designated trustee manages their affairs and finances according to their wishes.

Philanthropic Legacy

Charitable giving is another area where trusts are especially helpful. If philanthropy is an essential aspect of your estate planning, you can establish a charitable trust to support your chosen causes. Through a charitable trust, you can donate assets while retaining income from those assets during your lifetime. This allows you to support charitable organizations and potentially receive certain tax benefits, all while ensuring that your philanthropic legacy endures.

Estate Taxes

Trusts can also be instrumental in minimizing estate taxes. Through various types of trusts, such as irrevocable life insurance trusts or generation-skipping trusts, you can reduce your overall estate tax liability. By leveraging the tax advantages provided by trusts, it becomes possible to preserve more wealth for future generations and secure a more meaningful legacy.

Adding a Trust to Your Estate Plan

By incorporating a trust, or trusts, into your estate plan, you can expedite the distribution of assets, maintain privacy, and provide greater control and flexibility over how your assets are managed. A trust can also offer asset protection, facilitate charitable giving, and help minimize estate taxes.

An experienced estate planning attorney or elder law attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of trusts and ensure that your estate plan aligns with your goals and aspirations. Contact our estate planning and elder law firm today to learn how we can help you establish a trust to meet your estate planning needs.

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.

How Do Estate Planning and Elder Law Differ?

Although elder law and estate planning are both concerned with aging issues, elder law focuses mainly on issues that seniors face as they grow older.

How Estate Planning and Elder Law are Similar

No matter what stage of life we’re in, we face challenges. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. We can get into accidents, especially when we’re young and under the impression that we’ll live forever. If you were incapacitated, who would you want to speak for you? Who would you trust to pay the bills or make medical decisions?

Both estate planning and elder law attorneys help you choose the right people to stand in your shoes when you can’t speak for yourself.

As adults, we start families, buy property, and accumulate valuable and sentimental items. If we’re thinking realistically, we want to ensure our families are taken care of and receive our property should something happen to us.

Both estate planning and elder law attorneys help you answer tough questions. Both attorneys also know how to protect your estate from tax burdens and avoid the expense and delay of court proceedings, such as probate and guardianship.

Elder Law Becomes Crucial in Later Stages of Life

Elder law expertise becomes crucial when we get older. We’re living longer, healthier lives – but nobody knows when we, or those we love, will get too sick to make decisions or live independently.

You may want to postpone thinking about these things, but delay or denial about incapacitation or declining health can mean that your entire savings gets wiped out paying for nursing home care. Misconceptions about government benefits, like Medicaid, can prevent you from seeking benefits, cause disqualification, or delays that leave you paying thousands of dollars a month for care out of pocket.

Senior business owners who are retiring need a succession plan for a smooth and profitable transition from their business. Older adults and their families have a quality of life to protect. Many want to stay in their homes as long as possible but must prepare for a time when skilled nursing facility care becomes necessary. Elder law attorneys help seniors allocate financial resources to protect against as many potential problems as possible. That includes preserving your home and savings for a spouse or future generations.

Reasons to Find an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys create custom estate plans with senior issues in mind. They can help you answer difficult questions and find the right solutions for your family by keeping their best interests at heart. Preparing for the future reduces stress and anxiety in an emergency. Your family will know your wishes and can make decisions for you when you need their help. Part of your plan to pay for long-term care includes how to use Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, or retirement benefits.

Evaluating financial resources and determining eligibility for government benefits is complex and requires knowledge and experience to navigate the process successfully. Elder law attorneys use legal strategies to maximize your resources and will work with your financial advisor to align estate planning strategies with overall financial goals.

Our elder law attorneys want you to enjoy your life and independence for as long possible. And when life becomes harder with age, you’ll have something left over for your legacy. We are 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, assisted living, 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.

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.

The Estate Planning Process

The Estate Planning Process

An estate planning process is a multifaceted process that involves several documents spelling out a person’s wishes. During the process, you can name people to make financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable. You can designate beneficiaries for your assets. You can also express your wishes for what type of medical care you want if you are severely ill or injured and unable to communicate.

Since each person’s situation is unique, every estate plan is different. Here are the basic steps in the estate planning process to get you started. Working with an estate planning attorney will help you create and implement a plan that works for your specific needs.

Inventory Your Assets

We often don’t realize how many tangible and intangible assets we have until we start counting them. Before meeting with an estate planning attorney, create an inventory of everything you own that has significant monetary or family value.

Your tangible assets may include:

  • Real estate, both residential and commercial (unless owned by your company)
  • Vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, or boats
  • Collectible items, such as artwork, antiques, coins, stamps, or trading cards
  • Jewelry and other valuable items

Your intangible assets may include:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Investments, such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or certificates of deposit
  • Retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or an IRA
  • Life insurance policies or health savings accounts
  • Ownership shares in a business

After you have created an inventory of your assets, determine each asset’s value. If you are unable to attach a dollar amount to an asset, you can determine its worth by how much your heirs will value it or have it appraised. By giving each asset a value, you will be able to evenly divide your assets among your heirs.

Determine Your Family’s Needs

One important aspect of estate planning is making sure your dependents’ needs will be met after you’re gone. Life insurance can be a good way to ensure the necessary funds to support your loved ones. Work with a financial advisor to be certain you have enough life insurance to cover your dependents’ needs.

If you have minor children, name a guardian and a backup guardian who can take care of your children if you and your spouse are both unable to care for them. In addition to naming guardians for your children, it is a good idea to express what’s most important to you. For example, you can share your values related to education, religion, and general child rearing.

Put It All in Writing

For your estate plan to be official, you need to put your desires into legal documents and sign them in the presence of a notary public and one or two witnesses. The requirements for a valid will vary from state to state. Here are some estate planning documents that may be part of your estate plan.

  • Will: A will is an estate planning document that everyone should have. You can use your will to name the person you want to manage your estate after you have passed away. You can also designate which beneficiaries should get which assets, appoint guardians for your minor children, and explain funeral and burial arrangements.
  • Trust: During the estate planning process, you may determine that you need a trust to manage some of your assets. Trusts are useful estate planning tools that can offer various asset protection benefits. An estate planning attorney can let you know if a trust can help you achieve your estate planning goals.
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint a person you trust to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to manage them.
  • Advance Health Care Directive: With this document, you can express your wishes for end-of-life care and name a person you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • HIPAA form: This form is usually only about three pages long and includes a list of people whom health care providers may share your medical information with.

Review and Update Your Estate Plan

Too many people think that once they have signed their estate plans, they are through with the process. However, since changes in our lives are inevitable, changes to our estate plans are often necessary. You should review your estate plan every few years and consult with your estate planning attorney when you need to make changes.


This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning 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.


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.

Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder Abuse Prevention

In a perfect world we could believe that our elderly loved ones aren’t being intentionally harmed. However, the truth is that senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to abuse. The National Council on Aging reports that one in ten American seniors (60+) have fallen victim to elder abuse. It is also estimated that only one of every twenty-four abuse cases is reported. This suggests that as many as five million elders are abused every year.

Elder Abuse Defined

The Centers for Disease Control defines elder abuse as “an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates risk or harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older.” While abuse can vary greatly, there are five different types of abuse:

  1. Physical abuse is the intentional injury to or harm to another. It can result from kicking, hitting, grabbing, pushing, biting, pinching, or any forceful action.
  2. Neglect occurs when the basic needs of a person are not being met. This includes personal care, medical, nutritional, hygiene, and housing. It can be classified as unintentional or intentional abuse.
  3. Psychological or emotional abuse can be characterized by verbal or nonverbal behavior that caused distress, fear, psychological suffering, or mental anguish. This type of abuse can include manipulation, threatening behavior, humiliation, intimidation, harassment, shaming, criticism, isolation, exploitation, or power dynamics.
  4. Sexual abuse is the act of any forced, non-consensual, or unwanted sexual contact, interaction attention, or exploitation. This abuse can take many forms. For example, it may include non-consensual touching, exposing the elder, intercourse, exposing oneself to the elder, verbal obscenities, and sexual advances.
  5. Financial abuse takes place when someone, usually a caregiver or trusted individual, illegally or improperly takes advantage of a senior’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the elder. This type of abuse can include identification theft, stealing money from bank accounts, fraud, incorrect billing of services, and selling off assets.

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

To fight the growing elder abuse epidemic, the Elder Abuse and Prosecution Act was signed into law on October 18, 2017, by President Donald Trump. This act enhances the government’s focus on elder abuse prevention by utilizing a multi-faceted approach to protecting elders by punishing perpetrators.

The goals of the Elder Abuse and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) are as follows.

  • Improve local, state, and federal data collection on elder abuse.
  • Support and improve the prosecution of elder abuse.
  • Improve elder abuse technical assistance and training for law enforcement.
  • Improve provided victim assistance programs and resources.
  • Increase penalties for perpetrators of email and telemarketing scams targeting elders.

Elder Abuse Prevention Components

EAPPA proposes five main changes to protect the elderly from this abuse include:

  1. The Department of Justice is required to designate Elder Justice coordinators. These coordinators are responsible for serving as legal counsel, assisting with the prosecution, and increasing public awareness.
  2. The Attorney General and FBI coordinate elder abuse crime training programs for current and upcoming FBI agents.
  3. It is the Attorney General’s responsibility to coordinate with all law enforcement divisions to establish the best data collection practices. They are also responsible for establishing a group that shares all relevant information for prosecuting and uncovering elder abuse cases.
  4. The Director of the Office for Victims of Crime is required to utilize the data to present an annual report to Congress with an analysis of elder abuse. This will include recommendations on how to improve current services for elder abuse victims.
  5. The federal criminal code expanded to include fraudulent attempts to induce participation in a business opportunity, commitment to a loan, or investment for profit through email or telemarketing.

The elder abuse epidemic is a significant issue in America, and our country was long overdue for help from Congress. However, seeing laws like EAPAA pass over the last few years provides hope that our country will eventually see an end to this epidemic that affects our beloved elders. For more information on elder abuse laws, please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.

Respite Care Working Hand in Hand with Caregivers

Respite Care Working with Caregivers

Caregiving is a selfless duty that offers fulfillment and exhaustion all at once. While many find gratification in caring for others, they must tend to their own lives and responsibilities. Because of this, caregivers typically experience some extent of burnout. To avoid burnout, it is critical for all caregivers to remember to take care of themselves. We can have respite care working hand in hand with caregivers.

Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is the emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion from the stressors that coincide with caring for a loved one. It is typically accompanied by feeling under-supported, overwhelmed, and underappreciated.

Burnout is most likely to happen when caregivers are not taking care of themselves. This can eventually affect the caregiver’s ability to provide quality care, which can be harmful to both the caregiver and the individual receiving care. A study conducted by the Journals of Gerontology concluded that caregivers under high levels of strain and responsibility had a significantly higher mortality rate and poorer health outcomes compared to those with less or no caretaking pressures.

Fortunately, burnout can be prevented or minimized by taking precautions such as healthy eating, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and utilizing respite care to ensure regular breaks are prioritized.

Respite Care Services

Respite care is an essential component of caregiving. It provides support for caregivers by offering temporary relief. This enables the caregiver to take much-needed breaks from the high demands of caring for a sick, disabled, or aging loved one.

Respite care is unique for each situation. It can take place in one’s home, nursing or residential facilities, or adult day care centers. It may only be for a few hours while the caregiver runs errands, or it can be for a few days to weeks, depending on the circumstances. The type of support varies greatly as well and may include:

  • Assistance with household chores, errands, or tasks
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and hygienic needs
  • Basic medical care
  • Companionship

Types of Respite Care

Arrangements for respite care are made ahead of time by the caregiver, and these arrangements can take the form of many types. The most common types of respite care are as follows:

  • Informal care is generally provided by family members or friends. It does not involve a respite professional and is an excellent solution for occasional, short-term breaks.
  • In-home care services come to you and offer temporary relief or can be regularly scheduled. An agency or an individual caregiver can provide in-home care aids or respite services.
  • Day services are an excellent option for adults who enjoy socialization and time out of their homes. These services are provided at various locations, such as senior centers or churches, and allow for supervised socialization under medical care. These services permit caregivers to go to work or complete other daytime tasks.
  • Residential care is much like a temporary nursing home or assisted living facility. It allows for overnight stays and is a good option if a caregiver must travel or needs a longer break.

Being a caregiver is a full-time responsibility. To provide the best care for a loved one, the caregiver must ensure that they are taking care of themselves too. Respite care plays a vital role, as it recharges the caregiver so burnout can be avoided and all have the best outcome. Respite care are working hand in hand with caregivers.

If you are caring for aging parents or someone with a special needs disability, learn more about respite resources available to you. For assistance, please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760.