Elder Law

Stigmas Surrounding Alzheimer’s Disease

It can be difficult for the entire family when someone is losing their memory. The person who has been the head of the family may soon fade from the person they once were, leaving their loved ones to wonder what will come next. The stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease has a significant negative impact on the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Around 25% of dementia patients hide their diagnosis, and 40% said they have withdrawn from many everyday activities according to recent studies. There are many negative public images and stereotypes associated with dementia, which contributes to a lack of engagement with people with this condition. Many people with dementia experience social isolation due to withdrawal from friends and other important people in their lives.

Many misconceptions of Alzheimer’s exist. It is widely believed that Alzheimer’s and dementia are a normal part of aging. This is not true. It is a disease that develops from a wide variety of risk factors. Many people believe that Alzheimer’s patients become violent and aggressive. This only happens with some patients and is typically the result of a deep sense of confusion and fear. It is also widely believed that people with Alzheimer’s can’t function or enjoy activities. Stigma is the use of negative labels to identify a person with a disability or illness. Stigma around Alzheimer’s disease exists, in part, due to the lack of public awareness and understanding of the disease, preventing people from:

  • Seeking medical treatment when symptoms are present 
  • Receiving an early diagnosis or any diagnosis at all 
  • Living the best quality of life possible while they are able to do so 
  • Making plans for their future 
  • Benefitting from available treatments 
  • Developing a support system 
  • Participating in clinical trials


Stigma and lack of awareness also impacts Alzheimer’s disease research. The government funds Alzheimer’s research at lower rates than other diseases, even when the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s disease is significantly higher. Stigmas and stereotypes are significant obstacles to the well-being and quality of life for those with dementia and their families. Here are some examples of the stigma those with Alzheimer’s may experience:

  • A diagnosis may test friendships. Friends may refuse to believe the diagnosis or withdraw, leaving a feeling of abandonment or isolation.
  • Relationships with family may change. Family members may not want to talk about the disease, assuming a low quality of life, or may avoid interaction all together.
  • Others may approach the care partner to inquire how one with Alzheimer’s is doing rather than approaching the individual directly.
  • The reaction of some friends and family to the diagnosis may prevent seeking help from others.

With proper assistance, people with Alzheimer’s can enjoy meaningful activities and maintain relationships. There are plenty of reasons why we need to fight Alzheimer’s stigma. Stigma can prevent people from seeking medical treatment when symptoms are present. It can prevent people from receiving an early diagnosis or any diagnosis at all. It can prevent people from developing a support system and benefitting from available treatments allowing them a high quality of life which is absolutely possible with Alzheimer’s disease.

What Can You Do?

  • Watch your loved one for changes.
  • Do not pass judgment on the changes you observe.
  • Talk to the individual who exhibits the symptoms; do not talk around the person.
  • Encourage the individual to seek treatment. Make sure the person understands there is possible treatment available with a diagnosis.
  • Do not exclude the individual from activities, do the opposite, include the individual in activities.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Healthcare

Caregiving From Afar

A long-distance caregiver is someone who provides care to someone who lives at least an hour away. This type of caregiving takes many forms – from arranging for in-home care, money management, bill paying, and information coordinator. You may also provide respite care for a primary caregiver, conduct safety reviews, create emergency plans, or any combination of these tasks. Legal publisher Nolo cites more than seven million adults in the US acting as long-distance caregivers for elderly parents or relatives.

The greatest success in long-distance caregiving happens when there is a foundation of planning and preparation. If there is a primary caregiver for your parent, ask how you can be most useful. Also, talk to friends who provide care to see if they have helpful suggestions. You will need to identify local resources that can help provide care for your parent. Local providers can include Meals-on-Wheels, senior centers, elder transportation, and more. The National Institute on Aging offers several good websites to use as a starting point. It is best to visit your parent before planning to assess their current living situation, identify their health issues, and gather important information.

Things to consider as you go through each room of the home, the garage, and the yard include

  • Safety – Is there anything that poses a safety problem in the location? Poor lighting, area rugs, clutter, or whatever else might stop your senior from moving safely around the space should be removed or improved.
  • Accessibility – Are things accessible to the senior? Are they within easy reach? Are switches, doors, plugs, and cabinets readily at hand to perform the room’s desired or necessary tasks?
  • Adaptability – Are there ways to adapt things in the room to provide greater accessibility, safety, or ease of use? Will brighter lights or additional railings, grab bars, and even a stairlift help your parent?

Check to see if your loved one is taking proper care of themselves including

  • Home care – Is their living space clean? Is food properly stored and the kitchen clean? Is there any clutter posing a safety hazard?
  • Food – Can your parent prepare themselves a nutritious meal? Are the pantry and refrigerator stocked with good food that is not out of date? Are they drinking enough water? If they have a pet, do they properly provide them with water, food, and outdoor activity?
  • Medical care – Is your loved one taking all of their medications in the right dosages and at the right time? Can they fill their prescriptions at the drug store? Are they able to transport themselves to doctor appointments and labs for blood workups? Do they calendar, remember, and go to their doctor appointments? If they have a pet, do they take them to see a veterinarian for routine examination?
  • Finances – Are there stacks of unopened mail around the house? Are bills left lying around? These warning signs are a good time to take over their bill payment or set them up on auto payments through their bank.
  • Driving ability – If your parent is still operating a car, truck, or even a golf cart, are they doing so safely? If you find increasing numbers of traffic tickets or warning violations, they frequently become lost or experience fender benders while parking, or easily become nervous, angry, or frustrated while driving; it may be time for your parent to hang up the keys.
  • Lifestyle – Does your parent drink alcohol to excess? Do they smoke? Do they participate in medical or recreational marijuana? These activities can cause negative interactions with medications, create mental confusion, and increase the risk of falling.

Gather contact information for neighbors, friends, clergy, or anyone your parent is in contact with regularly. While these relationships are informal, these are people you can rely on to help out in an emergency. Review medical care records, remembering to get doctors’ names, emails, and phone numbers. Include medical insurance information, medications, and other important data on a comprehensive list. Update the list quarterly or anytime you know there is a change. Does your parent live in a “smart home?” Learn the passwords and interact with the audio-video and health monitoring functions to watch for potential problems and communicate with them.

At a bare minimum, know where your parents store their financial information. If it is online, request the passwords. Suppose you need to manage their money remotely. In that case, you will need details about income sources, checking and savings accounts, monthly bills and expenses, social security benefits and other government assistance programs, and investment accounts. Contact information should include accountants, tax preparers, or other people who know about your loved one’s finances.

Get copies of relevant legal documents and know where your parent keeps the originals, including wills, house deeds, and advance health care directives. If your parent has an attorney, get their contact information and introduce yourself to them. If your parent needs an attorney we would be happy to set up a meeting.

Once you conclude your initial assessment, regularly speak with your parents and visit as much as you are able. Build your network of local contacts and coordinate with them to assess changes. Know that your plan is going to change often. Even if your parents can remain in their home, they will require more services and care as they age, and you will need to be responsive to these changes. There is no one solution for every living situation. Begin with a solid assessment of your parent’s current needs and prepare and plan with that information as your starting point.

We help seniors plan for the possibility of needing long-term care, and we ensure the proper legal documents are in place so that their wishes regarding their finances and their care will be carried out.  If you or your parents would like to discuss the possibility of long-term care and how to access financial resources to pay for that care, we would be happy to speak with you. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Estate Planning

A Power of Attorney Allows Another Person to Act On Your Behalf

While he awaited the closing on his Texas house, Michael was enjoying his time in Florida. Unfortunately, he took a bad fall and ended up in a Florida hospital. He had his Texas powers of attorney, but the problem was that they were “springing” powers. They were only effective if Michael lost capacity. Michael’s capacity was fine, it’s just that he wasn’t in Texas when an offer on the house came through.

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone else to stand in your shoes, to speak, and act on your behalf. A document that is effective immediately – even if you’re perfectly capable of managing your own affairs at the time – is the better choice. Michael should have designated a Texas agent with immediate powers, in a document that was comprehensive enough to authorize the agent to conduct real-estate transactions on Michael’s behalf.

A document like Michael’s, however, that “springs” into life only on incapacity, would not serve him as he needed. And even if Michael had lost capacity, a doctor would still have to certify that he could no longer make his own decisions. This would cause delay and uncertainty when swift action was required instead.

Many are concerned that if they have a power of attorney that is immediately effective, their agent will abuse privileges that aren’t even needed at the time. This is a sign, however, that they don’t trust that person. And after all, it’s better to be alert and aware if such a thing should happen, instead of discovering the problem only when you’ve lost capacity and it’s too late.

An experienced attorney can help you find your way through many such pitfalls. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Estate Planning

A Comparison of Irrevocable Versus Revocable Trusts

For estate planning, a wide variety of trust types are available; the most common are revocable and irrevocable trusts. While there is some similarity, these two major categories of trusts have different purposes in your estate plan. Both can substitute for a last will and testament as an alternative way to distribute property, though a trust and a will often exist concurrently. Whether a revocable or irrevocable trust works better for your estate plan depends on what you need the trust to do for you.

The most striking difference between the trust types is as defined in the names. A revocable trust permits changes, amendments, and revocations at any time while you are alive and mentally capable of doing so. In contrast, an irrevocable trust does not permit amendments or revocations of any type while you are alive. The only changes to the terms of the trust are as the trust agreement itself defines and allows.

Both trusts, when properly implemented, permit the bypass of the probate process. A revocable and irrevocable trust will survive your death, and your named successor trustee will be able to distribute trust property free from court interference after you die. The trustee may only distribute assets that the trust owns in title to avoid probate.

Why seek to avoid probate? The process is slow and time-consuming, taking anywhere from six months but in most instances one to three years to complete. Although it varies by state, probate can be costly as the court takes a portion of the gross estate in probate fees even before the deceased’s debts are paid. The fee can be as substantial as ten percent. Finally, probate is a public process, and all documents and information will become part of the public record. Estate debts and assets become public records, as are the distributions of assets. Anyone who cares to look up this public record can know which beneficiary received what and often make targets of inheritors for scams or burglaries.

Both trust types help you control property after you die with conditions you outline as to how to use trust assets once you pass away. Conditions are usually age restrictions, punishments for bad behavior, and incentives to promote good behavior. These conditions must not violate public policy. Revocable and irrevocable trusts can set up conditions regarding distribution while you are alive. However, in a revocable trust, if you create the trust, control the trust as trustee, and are the trust beneficiary, you will NOT receive protection from creditors or others who may have a claim against you. This lack of credit protection in a revocable trust is significantly different from an irrevocable trust.

An irrevocable trust can prevent the distribution of assets to certain entities or people, like a long-term care facility or a creditor. The irrevocable trust must be in place and active before protection from the debt accrued to be effective or be within certain time limits to qualify for government programs such as Medicaid. The irrevocable trust creates a legal wall separating you and your assets permitting the shielding from creditors or long-term medical care costs. Asset protection is one of the most useful aspects of an irrevocable trust.

An irrevocable trust is also a vehicle to shield your multi-million dollar wealth from excessive federal estate taxes to preserve generational wealth. 2022 tax exemptions include:

  • $12,060,000 federal estate tax exemption with a 40 percent top federal estate tax rate
  • $12,060,000 Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) tax exemption and a 40 percent top federal GST tax rate
  • Lifetime gift tax exemption is $12,060,000 and a 40 percent top federal gift tax rate
  • An annual gift tax exclusion amount increase to $16,000

In summary, both trust types can provide estate planning benefits depending on your needs.

Revocable Trust

  • Permits control of your assets, their distribution, and how they are spent after you pass
  • Permits bypassing the probate process
  • Limits probate if you have properties in multiple states and want to avoid probate in each state
  • You desire to simplify the distribution of your property to your heirs and children when you pass away.

Irrevocable Trust

  • Permits control of your assets, their distribution, and how they are spent after you pass
  • Permits bypassing the probate process
  • You have concerns about future long term medical costs
  • You have implicit trust in your children or other family members to take care of your property
  • You want to preserve generational wealth by protecting your assets from creditors or long-term care facilities
  • You want to protect your assets from potential future lawsuits
  • You want to limit federal estate taxes on your estate

Trust types in estate plans are as varied as those individuals seeking to enact them. To best protect your interests and those of your beneficiaries, meet with a qualified estate planning attorney who can explain the type of trust that best suits your needs. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Elder Living

Before Moving Your Parents to an Assisted Living Facility, Follow These Six Steps

For aging parents, assisted living communities provide essential care and a sense of calm and peace of mind. Identifying the suitable facility “fit” for your loved one is a journey requiring matching your parents’ needs, budget, and lifestyle with desirable locations. Research and preparation yield the best results when all parties participate by asking questions and engaging in open and honest conversations about expectations.

When your elderly parents need more help than an in-home caregiver can provide, A Place for Mom recommends taking these six steps to learn about assisted living before committing to relocating your parents. If you are unsure if your parents need help, check for any of these eighteen signs that indicate it is time to intervene for their benefit and safety.  

1.    Have a conversation with your family.

Where applicable, include all siblings in the first discussion no matter how far away they may live. If you are the driving force behind calling the meeting, be clear about your capacity to participate and provide care.

If you are already your parent’s caregiver, be honest about how challenging the job is and remind them you cannot perform the duties indefinitely without support. Work at the outset to settle any disagreements. Securing family members’ support is key to providing a smooth transition and reducing your workload. Your siblings may surprise you with input or solutions you may not have imagined.

If your parents are unwilling to listen to your proposed shift in their care, find a quiet moment when you can relay your feelings, observations, and concerns. Though your parents may be in denial, you must listen to them and document their apprehensions as well as their preferences. If they remain unmoved, perhaps employ the services of a professional mediator who can provide all involved a voice in a safe and constructive environment.

2. Understand what assisted living can do to help.

Big life changes can bring about significant stress, particularly with the elderly, who tend to be resistant to change. You can evaluate your parents’ needs with an assessment of their activities of daily living (ADLs). Recognize that assisted living encompasses far more than many people realize, although it is not as involved as memory care or nursing homes. Please do some research to understand what assisted living offers and match it to your parents’ requirements. And while healthy skepticism is reasonable, don’t forget to consider the potential benefits assisted living offers. Finally, speak to a local senior living advisor who has expertise in senior care. A Place for Mom offers free advisor services providing personalized advice and recommendations.

3.     Make a plan to cover costs for your parents’ care.

Cost may be the most significant determining factor when looking for senior living options. Assess what your family can afford monthly and seek out assisted living communities that match your budget. If you are fortunate, your parents may have savings or long-term care insurance that will help defray the costs. Many families must explore other avenues.

Speak candidly to your parents about their finances. The most successful transition plans are born from open, honest dialogue about the critical factors in their move. Assisted senior living can be costly, so bring everything into the open to reduce stress and avoid surprises. Help your parents to understand the prices and costs of assisted living communities. Understand options for care payment, whether private funding or health care insurance, Medicare, or VA benefits.

4.     Virtual tour or pay a visit to a senior living community.

Nothing can replace a trip through an assisted living community. It is better than brochures, photos, reviews, and floor plans. Tour a minimum of three communities that make your short-list. Try to schedule time for your parents to tour as well. Mealtimes can be an excellent time to tour as you can gauge residents’ satisfaction and interaction and the onsite staff. Print out this Community Touring Notes checklist for easy comparison.

5.     Consult several varied sources to determine the best assisted living community.

Talk to as many people as you know to learn from their experiences. Relying on a narrow range of information can lead to bad outcomes. Read senior living community reviews. Learn about your parents’ state regulatory environment, background check requirements, and appropriate agency licensing. Please take advantage of federal programs and speak to the long-term care ombudsman. Their job is to resolve issues related to safety, health, and residents’ rights in senior living communities. Setting up a meeting with an elder law attorney as new resident contracts in assisted living communities can be confusing. Understanding the scope of an assisted living community contract is crucial to identifying what is provided and avoiding unforeseen or hidden costs. An elder law attorney is best for this contract review as they will typically aspire to higher levels of professional conduct as they serve a vulnerable population.

6.     Prepare your parents for the transition to senior living.

Once discussions with your parents are underway, do not delay the move. The more time your parents have to mull things over, the more uneasy they can become about the unknown. Become action-oriented and help them to downsize by consolidating their possessions. Plan and coordinate the move carefully to minimize stress levels for all involved. Senior move managers know what to expect and can help your move run smoothly. Be sure to gather and manage your parents’ legal, medical, financial, and other essential documents to ensure they are not misplaced or lost during the move.

Being compassionate to your parents is vital during this life transition. Involving all family members in a constructive dialogue to create a positive approach to the move is critical. Some parents may make a move with relative ease, while other parents may present more challenges. For the best possible experience, follow these six steps to help your parents move to an assisted living community.

If you or your parents would like to discuss options for paying for long-term care, we would be happy to help. We help families plan for the possibility of high long-term care costs and to understand payment options available, like Medicaid or programs offered by the Veterans Administration. It’s important to understand these options to avoid running out of money while paying for long-term care.  We can also help by reviewing facility contracts when admitting a loved one to assisted living or a nursing home. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law

When Should Medicaid Crisis Planning Be Considered?

Individuals who meet certain asset requirements are eligible for Medicaid, a federal and state program that helps them pay for long-term care costs. Long-term care often creates devastating financial impacts on Americans, particularly the elderly, and for those family members who lose hours of income (and more) while providing care for their loved ones. The Medicaid system is still one of the best options to afford long-term care. Medicaid crisis planning is a strategy that can help you qualify for Medicaid without experiencing financial ruin.

As a joint federal and state, social safety net Medicaid differs by eligibility rules and regulations in every state, and even by name. Unfortunately, people often wait until a catastrophic event brings about sudden illness, disability, or other medical crises before planning long-term care. Under duress, a family system will listen and take advice from misinformed individuals, such as non-attorneys or attorneys who do not practice elder law. Perhaps unwittingly, these people tend to give the worst advice: spend everything you have until you qualify under the Medicaid eligibility rules. Though this approach can work, there are far better strategies that can be employed.

With the help of an elder law attorney, Medicaid crisis planning allows you to qualify for Medicaid nursing home/LTC without spending down all of your life’s assets. Working with an elder law attorney to devise a personal Medicaid crisis plan is a logical and financially prudent approach to long-term care and allows you or a loved one to use legally approved strategies to qualify for Medicaid before spending everything you own on the high cost of nursing home care.

If you have a loved one who is either in a nursing home or about to enter a nursing home, that is the time to speak to an elder law attorney. There are legal strategies that allow a person who needs long-term care to divest themselves of some of their assets and use the rest to pay for their care until Medicaid eligibility is met.  The sooner an elder law attorney is employed, the quicker Medicaid eligibility can be met.  However, it’s never too late, even if you or a loved one are already in a nursing home. 

The level of complexity involved in Medicaid crisis planning deems it necessary to retain an elder law attorney, preferably one specializing in Medicaid planning. Eligibility requirements vary, calculations are complex, timing is crucial, forms are ever-changing, and laws are amended. An elder law attorney can tailor your financial situation to the best Medicaid crisis planning solution and protect your financial future. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Estate Planning, Healthcare

Estate Planning: Talking to Your Parents

One of the most challenging topics to discuss with our parents is estate planning. Even broaching the subject can seem daunting. Despite the challenging nature of this subject, it is one of the most important conversations we can have with our parents. Having a thorough estate plan in place can mitigate confusion and anxiety at the end of one’s life and avoid unnecessary legal fees, taxes, and delays in the dispersion of assets.

The first time our estate plans are likely to come into play will be near the end of our lives and involve decisions concerning our health and finances. These can include what type of medical treatment we want, how the elderly will pay for it, how long, or even if we want to be kept on a life support system. Financial decisions can include reducing taxes when our assets are transferred to our heirs.

After we have passed, our estate plans dictate funeral service arrangements, what will happen to our remains, and how our assets will be distributed. Some people want to leave clear instructions while others leave the decision-making up to relatives or close friends. The most important thing to remember is to choose people who are best suited for the tasks we ask them to carry out.

Preparing for your estate planning conversation with your parents will help you broach the subject and make the most of it. Here are some things to consider.

  • Being familiar with the primary estate plan documents and what they are for will allow you to help them create an outline of how they want their estate plan to function. One way to become familiar with the documents is to create an estate plan for yourself. Having your estate plan could also be an excellent way to encourage your parents to create theirs.
  • Involving other family members, such as your siblings, can create a more collaborative environment and help move the process forward more quickly.
  • Starting the estate planning conversation soon is key for ensuring the best plan is in place. If you are unsure how to get the conversation going, you may want to schedule an initial consultation with an estate planning attorney for your parents.

When you are ready to initiate the conversation with your parents, it may help to start by asking them if they already have any estate planning documents, then proceed in the order situations may arise. Some questions to consider are:

  • Do you have any estate plan documents? If so, where do you keep them?
  • Who do you want to make health care decisions for you? Do you want one person to serve as your health care agent at a time, or do you want two or more people to serve simultaneously?
  • What are your medical and end-of-life preferences?
  • After your death, how do you want your tangible and intangible assets distributed? Who do you want to oversee the distribution of your assets?

Since estate planning is a dynamic process and needs to evolve as conditions change, the estate planning conversation will need to be revisited if, for example, people named in the plan pass away or if a property is sold. Though talking about and creating estate plans can seem daunting, it is helpful to emphasize that one of the most valuable aspects of a thoughtful estate plan is that it gives all involved peace of mind as they move through the end of their loved one’s life.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning law. It is not legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Estate Planning

How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help You?

With the aging Baby Boomer generation and the increased number of international migrants, the senior population of the United States is growing rapidly. Although the US average life expectancy has seen a slight three-year decline, many Americans, men, and women live well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. An elder law attorney works with seniors, taking a holistic approach to the legal issues people commonly face as they age. These include matters of housing, physical and financial health, estate planning, and more. There are as many issues as there are seniors, as life circumstances are different for everyone. An attorney who specializes in the host of the problems senior citizens face can be a wise investment.

Whether you have a lucrative business and many assets, or a small home with a modest bank account, estate planning can be overwhelming. However, having your affairs in order is a final gift to your family. An estate plan is much more than creating your will though it is generally the first step. There are multiple types of wills, and while most people think of their last will and testament, there are also living wills, joint wills, pour-over wills that work in conjunction with trusts, and more. The type of will(s) you need to best control what happens to you and your assets throughout your life, and your death, are best explained by an elder law attorney. An elder law attorney specializing in estate planning helps you navigate wills, trusts, guardianships, advance medical directives, and the financial management of life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, and 401ks. All of these can have tax implications for managing and settling your estate.

Government programs on federal and state levels may be available to seniors. Individual qualifications and the application processes can be complicated and confusing, especially when enrolling for the first time. An elder law attorney can help you understand Medicare Part A (hospital, skilled nursing, some home health, and hospice), Part B (medical insurance covering certain services by doctors, preventative services, medical supplies, and outpatient care). Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans, a private company insurance plan you purchase that dovetails with Medicare) and Part D (covering prescription drugs). If you are a veteran, programs are available through the Veteran’s Administration and can provide you with further and more specialized assistance because of your military service. Veteran program qualifications can be highly complex, so look for an elder law attorney who is accredited by the Veterans Administration.

Medicaid provides health care benefits for low resource and low-income adults, pregnant women, elderly adults, children, and people with disabilities. If you qualify, you may receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Medicaid qualifiers have their healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses covered through the program. Medicaid also includes custodial care and addresses long-term care expenses if you begin living in a nursing home. An elder law attorney understands how Medicare and Medicaid can work to your best advantage.

Social Security benefit amounts change depending on the age range you choose to receive your benefit. You can currently apply and qualify for your benefits at 61 and nine months of age; however, the full retirement age for social security is 67, and cashing in early has long-term consequences for your payout. An elder law attorney can help you determine the best age to receive your social security benefits based on your health and financial situation. Suppose you also receive disability benefits before full retirement age or become disabled at that age. In that case, an elder law attorney can ensure you receive the proper benefits based on your condition. 

Long-term care is known to be an expensive proposition whether you are trying to afford long-term care insurance upfront or pay for it out of pocket if you require it in the future. Not addressing the issue of long-term care is a big gamble to your financial well-being. Morningstar reports that 52 percent of Americans turning age 65 will need some long-term care services in their lifetime. An elder law attorney can help you understand policy premiums and how they can increase if you purchase long-term care insurance. They can also guide you through Medicaid planning or estate planning that can help you qualify for the best financial arrangements for long-term care. Sometimes, it is beneficial to spend down your estate to be eligible for Medicaid, and your elder law attorney will know what is required by law to do it properly.

Other issues, such as employment discrimination, elder abuse, elder fraud, even grandparent visitation rights, fall under an elder law attorney’s scope. An attorney who practices elder law has a more comprehensive list of capabilities to help you through your senior years than those attorneys without expertise in this area.

We focus on elder law.  We would be honored to speak to you about how we can help you come up with a comprehensive legal plan covering many of the topics above so you can enjoy your senior years without unnecessary worry. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700. We look forward to hearing from you.

Elder Law, Estate Planning

A Good Estate Plan Should Include the Following Five Items

Everyone should plan their estate, but as we age, it becomes even more necessary to do so. Many people avoid estate planning because they do not want to think about the end of life, failing health, or disability. Others believe that an estate plan is only for rich people. However, an estate plan is helpful for the senior adult and their families regardless of overall wealth.

The estate is all the property owned both individually and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, etc., and what is owed. Without an estate plan, it is very difficult to carry out a person’s wishes and can bring on a long, drawn-out probate that can be very expensive for the family. If an estate plan is in place, it can provide peace of mind for the senior adult and their family, as well as protection for the wishes of the senior.

Below are some basic guidelines for what should be included in an estate plan.

1. Will.  A will provides for an executor of the estate, who will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. The distribution of assets can be outlined in the will. This can be as broad or detailed as a person wishes. In a will, beneficiaries and guardians for minor children should be assigned. It may not seem necessary to discuss minor children when discussing seniors and estate planning, but with the rise of grandparents raising grandchildren, this may indeed be an important part of the will. A senior adult can spell out, in the will, how they want their funeral and burial to be carried out as well.

2. Living Will. A living will outline a senior’s wishes for end-of-life medical care. It can include, in as much detail as the senior wishes, what medical treatments the senior would or would not like to have in specific situations. A living will takes the stress of making those decisions off of family members and helps to keep peace in families during times that can be difficult and emotional.

3. Healthcare Power of Attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is also a key part of an estate plan. This legal document provides for someone to legally make healthcare decisions for a senior adult. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect for the senior if the senior becomes unable to make decisions.

4. Financial Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney names an agent who has the power to act in the place of the senior adult for matters relating to finances. The durable financial power of attorney stays in effect if the senior adult becomes unable to handle their affairs. By having a financial power of attorney in place, the stress and expense of a guardianship can be avoided, and the senior has the final say in who will make decisions relating to finances.

5. Trust. Setting up a trust can be beneficial for the distribution of specific assets or pieces of property. The benefit of a trust is that it does not go through probate, as compared to a will. Property is still distributed at the death of the trustmaker, but it is done without the need of a court.  This also allows for privacy of the trustmaker, where with a will and a probate, all of the deceased person’s assets and the terms of their will are made public.

Having an estate plan is necessary if you or your senior loved one wishes to have a say in what happens at the end of life and with assets after death. Consulting and planning with an elder law attorney will help to ensure that all options are explored and the best possible solution is utilized. The elder law attorney can walk you through all of the necessary parts of the estate plan, provide an explanation, and prepare the paperwork. Elder law attorneys will help take the guesswork out of estate planning.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Elder Law, Elder Living

Protections from Spousal Impoverishment

There are laws that were put in place to protect married couples’ savings from being depleted when using Medicaid. These protections prevent husbands and wives from bankrupting themselves trying to fund care for their loved ones. They originally required states to allow spouses of nursing home residents to maintain a certain amount of both income and assets; in 2014, this protection was extended to married couples whether the care is provided in an institution or at home.

These protections are set to expire in September unless new legislation is passed. If these protections are not extended, some married couples would be at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage unless they enter a nursing home.

Forcibly separating families, forcing individuals to institutionalize their spouses, is a tough policy. Congress should therefore extend these protections. Fortunately, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) would make these protections permanent.

“When you’re caring for a loved one round-the-clock and serving as your spouse’s support system, you’ve probably already worried about how to make ends meet. You shouldn’t have to worry about your savings completely drying up,” Smith said. “Our bill would make spousal impoverishment protections permanent so families can stay together and get the care they need, surrounded by the people they love.”

This particular bill is mostly supported by Democrats, including Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Several of these supporters

A similar bill, H.R.1343, was introduced to the House in February by two Republicans, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

In the meanwhile, H.R.3253, which would extend the applicability of Medicaid eligibility criteria that protect against spousal impoverishment for recipients of home- and community-based services, passed in the House and is now in the Senate.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700. You can also read more using the links below.

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