Many seniors and their families put off consulting with an estate planning attorney to plan for long-term care because they’re afraid of the cost. But an attorney can help you save money in the long run as well as make sure you are getting the best care for yourself or your loved one.
Instead of doing nothing or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can hire someone who has dedicated years to education and has experience in helping seniors receive the care they deserve.
Additional benefits of hiring an experienced estate planning attorney include:
- No conflict of interest. When nursing homes refer the families of residents to non-lawyers to assist in preparing Medi-Cal applications, for example, the preparer has dual loyalties, both to the facility that provides the referrals and to the client applying for benefits. To the extent everyone wants the Medi-Cal application to be successful, there is no conflict of interest. But it’s in the nursing home’s best interest that the client pays privately for as long as possible before going on Medi-Cal. On the other hand, it is in the client’s best interest to protect assets for their spouse or family. An attorney hired to assist with long-term care planning has a duty of loyalty only to their client and will do his or her best to achieve the client’s goals.
- Deep knowledge and experience. Professionals who work in any field on a daily basis develop the breadth of experience and expertise to advise clients on how they might achieve their goals. Those goals may include maintaining independence and dignity, preserving funds for children and grandchildren, or staying home rather than moving to assisted living or a nursing home. Less experienced advisers, however well-intentioned, can’t know what they don’t know.
- Peace of mind. It is possible that when you consult with an elder law attorney, the attorney will advise you that in your situation there is not much you can do to preserve assets or achieve eligibility for benefits more quickly. However, the consultation will provide peace of mind that you have not missed an important opportunity. In addition, if obstacles arise during the process, the attorney will be there to work with you to find the best solution.
No matter which way you look at long-term care planning, there are more opportunities for those who plan ahead. Even at the last minute, there are almost always steps available to preserve some assets. It’s always worth checking out whether these are steps you would like to take. If you’d like guidance in this area, I invite you to call me at 916.247.6868 for advice on long-term care and asset protection planning.