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Richardson Elder Law And Estate Planning Blog

What could happen if your parents’ estate goes to probate?

You may have heard of the head-spinning process known as probate, but you may not know what the process actually looks like, or why it is difficult in the first place.

In Texas, probate, or the settling of someone’s estate by a court-appointed executor, can be simplified if the estate falls under a certain tax bracket. For others the process can involve extensive court proceedings that can last for years.

How do you know if you need a power of attorney?

You may be one of the many people wondering if you need a power of attorney. The easy answer to this question is that everyone should have a power of attorney, no matter their age or health. That may cause you to ask a host of other questions, however, such as why you need one, and what should be in the document. 

How does my parent’s long-term care insurance work?

When it comes time to prepare for your parent’s long-term care, making sense of all their options and what they can afford can be stressful. If they have a long-term care insurance plan, it adds extra complication. How do you make sense of a policy you didn’t buy?

Here are four things to keep in mind as you work through your parent’s plan:

Cause for concern when your elderly parent’s behavior seems off

The decision to put your mom in a nursing home was likely a hard one. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that the woman who raised you can no longer care for herself. It was even more challenging to entrust a total stranger with her care. In addition, the cost of her residence at such a facility represents a considerable financial burden. But you want what’s best for your loved one’s health and wellbeing, so you made those tough choices.

Shortly after moving into assisted living, however, you notice a marked difference in your mom’s behavior. She’s much quieter and far less engaged. You’re concerned that her mental aptitude is rapidly diminishing. Now imagine discovering that, in fact, your mom has been drugged with antipsychotic medication that renders her virtually catatonic.

Points to Discuss with Your Aging Parent

Your parent is getting on in age, but you don't have a clear idea if there is a plan in place for their care. It is a difficult topic to broach; no one wants to talk about death and the financial realities that come with aging. Instead of having a proactive conversation early in a parent's aging process most families have a reactive discussion under high levels of stress and emotions while their parent is experiencing an adverse health event. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has reported that 85 percent of time long-term care decisions are made during a medical crisis. The message is clear, be proactive and start discussing the important financial questions with your parent.

Prepare Yourself

Your parent will be feel more comfortable and at ease if you have processed your feelings before talking to them. Conduct research so that you are knowledgeable enough to present a clear and concise set of options for your parent. Having options allows your parent and family to make decisions and feel in control of the process. You are seeking progress, not perfection. It may not all become settled in one conversation, but the price of silence about your parent's plan may be very costly to you.

The following is an urgent message that could impact you or a loved one.

On September 18, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amended the rules regarding eligibility for VA pension. These new rules have drastically changed VA pension planning. VA pension is a monthly cash benefit available to wartime Veterans or surviving spouses of wartime Veterans who have limited income and assets and are in need of care.

Some of the rules that will go into effect on October 18, 2018 are:

Helpful Ways to Pay for Assisted Living Costs

Assisted living rent can vary from $2,000 to $5,000 monthly. Depending on what type of care your loved one needs, assisted living can be the most affordable solution when compared to a nursing home ($5,000 to $10,000 or more per month) or long-term in-home care. If closely monitored medical supervision is not necessary for your aging senior, assisted living might be the best financial choice.


Keeping your passwords safe for your estate

Online passwords are becoming increasingly necessary to include on wills and trusts. These passwords do not just link to your Facebook or email accounts, they can access your financial history if you chose to pay most of your bills and plan your estate online to avoid any hassle with paperwork.

After death, you need someone who can access your accounts to inform contacts of your passing and to access any important digital assets you want transferred to friends or family. Any slight misinformation or misspellings could make those assets uninheritable, so you must create a system to ensure that someone you trust can access these passwords.

Aid and Attendance benefit allowance for aging Veterans

According to data from the 2012 census, there are over 12 million Veterans age 65 and older. The Veterans Administration (VA) offers a long-term care benefit to help aging Veterans and their surviving spouses manage the financial challenges of aging and health concerns.

The VA bases benefits on need, meaning the countable household income and net worth cannot exceed an annual limit set by Congress. To be eligible for pension benefits the Veteran must have served 90 days of active duty during a wartime period and been honorably discharged. The Veteran must also be age 65 or older, permanently disabled, a patient in a nursing home or receiving income from either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

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