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Elder Law

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Six "Must Haves" for Nursing Home Contracts

The decision to place a family member into a nursing home is a dilemma for an ever-increasing number of Americans. In addition to the emotional difficulties inherent in making such a decision, if a family decides to place a member into a nursing home, there is a mountain of paperwork awaiting them. While nursing homes will often argue that their contacts are standard and cannot be changed, this is rarely the case. To ensure that your contract doesn’t have any hidden or illegal clauses, it’s essential to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before you sign it.

When you receive the nursing home contract, make sure to actually read the contract in detail to understand the provisions. Make sure that the following provisions are included:

    1. The basic daily rate for service and the adjustment process for price increases. By ensuring that the basic daily rate and the adjustment process is clearly defined in the nursing home contract, you ensure yourself protection from future disputes.
      A list of charges for any items not included in the basic daily rate. This ensures that charges for all items not included in the basic daily rate are defined to ensure future disputes over price does not arise.
    2. The right to apply for Medicare and/or Medicaid. Receiving government assistance can be a major financial relief for residents in nursing homes, but these programs are less profitable for nursing homes. Ensure that the contract expressly allows you to apply for Medicare and/or Medicaid.
    3. The ability to appeal any Medicare and/or Medicaid decisions. Similar to the above, this ability ensures that you have the right to appeal any Medicare and/or Medicaid decisions.
    4. Only the family member is responsible for the costs of care. Some nursing homes will attempt to include a clause that makes you a co-signer to the agreement and thus a third-party guarantor for any money not paid by the family member. Even though these agreements are illegal under the Nursing Home Reform Act, it is best practice to ensure that the nursing home contract expressly identifies that only the family member is responsible.
    5. The family member can be removed from the nursing home only if (i) removal is necessary for the family member’s welfare; (ii) the family member no longer requires care consistent with a nursing home; (iii) the health and/or safety of other residents in the nursing home are placed in danger by the family member’s presence; (iv) the family member fails to pay and the failure to pay is unreasonable; and, (v) the nursing home is no longer in operation. Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes can only remove residents under specific circumstances. By including the prior language, you ensure that the nursing home contract is compliant with federal law and that your family member is protected.

These six provisions should be considered “must haves” in nursing home contracts, although there are a great many other important provisions that should be included or excluded depending on your needs.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Umbrella Insurance and Why You Need It

Umbrella Insurance: What It Is and Why You Need It

Lawsuits are everywhere. What happens when you are found to be at fault in an accident, and a significant judgment is entered against you? A child dives head-first into the shallow end of your swimming pool, becomes paralyzed, and needs in-home medical care for the rest of his or her lifetime. Or, you accidentally rear-end a high-income executive, whose injuries prevent him or her from returning to work. Either of these situations could easily result in judgments or settlements that far exceed the limits of your primary home or auto insurance policies. Without additional coverage, your life savings could be wiped out with the stroke of a judge’s pen.

Typical liability insurance coverage is included as part of your home or auto policy to cover an injured person’s medical expenses, rehabilitation or lost wages due to negligence on your part. The liability coverage contained in your policy also covers expenses associated with your legal defense, should you find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Once all of these expenses are added together, the total may exceed the liability limits on the home or auto insurance policy. Once insurance coverage is exhausted, your personal assets could be seized to satisfy the judgment.

However, there is an affordable option that provides you with added liability protection. Umbrella insurance is a type of liability insurance policy that provides coverage above and beyond the standard limits of your primary home, auto or other liability insurance policies. The term “umbrella” refers to the manner in which these insurance policies shield your assets more broadly than the primary insurance coverage, by covering liability claims from all policies “underneath” it, such as your primary home or auto coverage.

With an umbrella insurance policy, you can add an additional $1 million to $5 million – or more – in liability coverage to defend you in negligence actions. The umbrella coverage kicks in when the liability limits on your primary policies have been exhausted. This additional liability insurance is often relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the primary insurance policies and potential for loss if the unthinkable happens.

Generally, umbrella insurance is pure liability coverage over and above your regular policies. It is typically sold in million-dollar increments. These types of policies are also broader than traditional auto or home policies, affording coverage for claims typically excluded by primary insurance policies, such as claims for defamation, false arrest or invasion of privacy.
 


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How Long Will It Take To Become Eligible For Medicaid?

When you need assistance paying for long-term medical care, help cannot come soon enough. Medicaid is often the best option for people who need help paying for their care, but like any government program, you have to jump through a few hoops to get and stay eligible for it.

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that, together with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides health coverage to over 72.5 million Americans, including seniors and individuals with disabilities. Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States, and a primary funder of long-term care.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

8 Things to Consider When Selecting a Caregiver for Your Senior Parent

8 Things to Consider When Selecting a Caregiver for Your Senior Parent

As a child of a senior citizen, you are faced with many choices in helping to care for your parent. You want the very best care for your mother or father, but you also have to take into consideration your personal needs, family obligations and finances.

When choosing a caregiver for a loved one, there are a number of things to take into consideration.

  1. Time. Do you require part- or full-time care for your parent? Are you looking for a caregiver to come into your home? Will your parent live with the caregiver or will you put your parent into a senior care facility? According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 58 percent of care recipients live in their own home and 20 percent live with the caregiver. You should consider your current arrangement but also take time to identify some alternatives in the event that the requirements of care should change in the future.
  2. Family ties. If you have siblings, they probably want to be involved in the decision of your parent’s care. If you have a sibling who lives far away, sharing in the care responsibilities or decision-making process may prove to be a challenge. It’s important that you open up the lines of communication with your parents and your siblings so everyone is aware and in agreement about the best course of care.
  3. Specialized care. Some caregivers and care facilities specialize in specific conditions or treatments. For instance, there are special residences for those with Alzheimer’s and others for those suffering from various types of cancer. If your parent suffers from a disease or physical ailment, you may want to take this into consideration during the selection process
  4. Social interaction. Many seniors fear that caregivers or care facilities will be isolating, limiting their social interaction with friends and loved ones. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the process and identify the activities that he or she may enjoy such as playing games, exercising or cooking. Make sure to inquire about the caregiver’s ability to allow social interaction. Someone who is able to accommodate your parent’s individual preferences or cultural activities will likely be a better fit for your mother or father.
  5. Credentials. Obviously, it is important to make sure that the person or team who cares for your parent has the required credentials. Run background checks and look at facility reviews to ensure you are dealing with licensed, accredited individuals. You may choose to run an independent background check or check references for added peace of mind.
  6. Scope of care. If you are looking for a live-in caregiver, that person is responsible for more than just keeping an eye on your mother or father—he or she may be responsible for preparing meals, distributing medication, transporting your parent, or managing the home. Facilities typically have multidisciplinary personnel to care for residents, but an individual will likely need to complete a variety of tasks and have a broad skill set to do it all.
  7. Money.Talk to your parent about the financial arrangements that he or she may have in place. If this isn’t an option, you will likely need to discuss the options with your siblings or your parent’s lawyer—or check your mother’s or father’s estate plan—to find out more about available assets and how to make financial choices pertaining to your parent’s care.
  8. Prepare. Upon meeting the prospective caregiver or visiting a facility, it is important to have questions prepared ahead of time so you can gather all of the information necessary to make an informed choice. Finally, be prepared to listen to your parent’s concerns or observations so you can consider their input in the decision. If he or she is able, they will likely want to make the choice themselves.

Choosing a caregiver for your parent is an important decision that weighs heavily on most adult children but with the right planning and guidance, you can make the best choice for your family. Once you find the right person, make sure to follow up as care continues and to check in with your mother or father to ensure the caregiver is the perfect fit.

 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Making Your Home Senior-Proof

Making your home senior-proof

Let’s face it – it’s tough getting old. The aches, pains, and pills often associated with aging are things that many members of the baby-boomer generation know all too well by now. Though you might not be able to turn back time, you can help an aging loved one enjoy their golden years by giving them a safe, affordable place to call home. If an aging parent is moving in with you and your family, there are many quick fixes for the home that will create a safe environment for seniors.

Start by taking a good look at your floor plan. Are all the bedrooms upstairs? You may want to think about turning a living area on the main floor into a bedroom. Stairs grow difficult with age, especially for seniors with canes or walkers. Try to have everything they need accessible on one floor, including a bed, full bathroom, and kitchen. If the one-floor plan isn’t possible, make sure you have railings installed on both sides of staircases for support. A chair lift is another option for seniors who require walkers or wheelchairs.

Be sure to remove all hazards in hallways and on floors. Get rid of throw rugs – they can pose a serious tripping hazard. Make sure all child or pet toys are kept off the floor. Add nightlights to dark hallways for easy movement during the night when necessary. Also install handrails for support near doorframes and most importantly, in bathrooms.

Handlebars next to toilets and in showers are essential for senior safety. Use traction strips in the shower, which should also be equipped with a seat and removable showerhead. To avoid accidental scalding, set your hot water heater so that temperatures can’t reach boiling. You may also want to consider a raised seat with armrests to place over your toilet, to make sitting and standing easier.

This applies to all other chairs in the house as well. Big, puffy chairs and couches can make it very difficult for seniors to sit and stand. Have living and dining room chairs with stable armrests, and consider an electronic recliner for easy relaxation.

To keep everyone comfortable and help avoid accidents, store all frequently used items in easily accessible places. Keep heavy kitchen items between waist and chest height.

Even with appropriate precautions, not all accidents can be avoided. Purchasing a personal alarm system like Life Alert can be the most important preparation you make for a senior family member. If they are ever left alone, Life Alert provides instant medical attention with the push of a button that they wear at all times.

Amidst all the safety preparations, remember that it’s important to keep the brain healthy, too. Have puzzles, cards, large-print books and magazines, computer games, and simple exercises available to keep seniors of healthy body and mind.

These simple preparations can not only help extend the life of your loved one, but help to make sure their remaining years are happy and healthy.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Does This Guardian Of The Galaxy Need A Guardian?

Earlier this month we celebrated the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Almost half a century ago, as the whole world watched, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” and Buzz Aldrin followed right behind him. It’s a feat that continues to inspire us, and which made Armstrong and Aldrin national heroes.

Aldrin has been in the news again recently, but it unfortunately has nothing to do with space exploration. The 88 year old recently..


Read more . . .


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What Your Loved Ones Absolutely Need to Know About Your Estate Plan

What Your Loved Ones Absolutely Need to Know About Your Estate Plan

The conversation about a person’s last wishes can be an awkward one for both the individual who is the topic of conversation and his or her loved ones. The end of someone’s life is not a topic anyone looks forward to discussing. It is, however, an important conversation that must be had so that the family understands  the testator’s final wishes before he or she passes away. If a significant sum is being left to someone or some entity outside of the family, an explanation of this action may go a long way to avoiding a contested will. In a similar vein, if one heir is receiving a larger share of the estate than the others, it is prudent to have this action explained. If funds are being placed in a trust instead of given directly to the heirs, it makes sense for the testator to advise his or her loved ones in advance.

When a loved one dies, people are often in a state of emotional turmoil. Each deals with grief differently and, often, unpredictably. Anger is a common reaction to loss, one of the five stages postulated to apply to everyone dealing with such a tragedy. Simply by talking to loved ones ahead of time, a testator can preempt any anger misdirected at the estate plan and avoid an unnecessary dispute, be it a small family tiff or a prolonged legal battle.

The executor of the estate must be privy to a significant amount of information before a testator passes on. It is helpful for the executor to know that he or she has been chosen for this role  and to have accepted the appointment in advance. The executor should know the location of the original will. Concerns of fraud mean that only the original copy of a will can be entered into probate. The executor should be aware of all bank accounts, assets, and debts in a testator’s name. This will avoid a tedious search for documents after the decedent passes on and will ensure that all assets are included as part of the estate. The executor of an estate should be aware of all memberships, because it will be the executor’s responsibility to cancel them. An up-to-date accounting of all assets and debts will simplify the settlement of the estate for an executor significantly.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Preventing a Will Contest & Preserving Peace in the Family


Preventing a Will Contest & Preserving Peace in the Family

The purpose of writing a Last Will and Testament is to make sure that you – and not an anonymous probate court judge – have control over the distribution of your property after your death.  If one or more family members disputes the instructions in your will, however, then it is possible  that a probate court judge may decide how your assets will be distributed.

Protect yourself, your family members and your last wishes by taking steps to prevent a will contest after your death.  Will contests (this is the legal term used to describe a family member’s challenge to the contents of a will) can be based on one or more of these claims:

  • The will was not properly executed
  • The willmaker was under improper or undue influence from a beneficiary
  • The willmaker or another person committed fraud
  • The willmaker lacked the mental capacity to make the will

There are a number of steps that you can take to help prevent will contests based on any of those claims.  It is important to remember, though, that different states have different laws regarding wills and probate.
Read more . . .


Monday, February 26, 2018

Naming A Guardian for Your Child


How Do I Name A Guardian For My Children In Case I Die? 

The hardest part of estate planning is contemplating your own demise, and that task grows even more difficult if you have children. It is painful to even think about what their life would be like without you. But if you don’t go through this thought exercise, you risk putting your children in a living situation you would never agree to should the worst come to pass. 
In this blog post we’ll go over a few different guardianship scenarios and best practices, but we would advise anyone seeking advice on this important topic to make an appointment with an attorney because each family situation is different, and your unique scenario will not be fully covered here.
Wills are where your wishes about guardianship should be formally recorded so that a court will recognize them.
Read more . . .


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Elder Estate Planning


Medicare vs. Medicaid: Similarities and Differences

With such similar sounding names, many Americans mistake Medicare and Medicaid programs for one another, or presume the programs are as similar as their names. While both are government-run programs, there are many important differences. Medicare provides senior citizens, the disabled and the blind with medical benefits. Medicaid, on the other hand, provides healthcare benefits for those with little to no income.
Read more . . .


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Guardianship Gone Wrong


There are over 1.5 million adults under the care of a guardian in the United States. Usually the guardian is a family member or friend, but sometimes a professional guardian is hired instead.
Read more . . .


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575 Lynnhaven Parkway, Suite 301 , Virginia Beach, VA 23452 | Phone: 757.301.9500
5425 Discovery Park Blvd., Suite 101, Williamsburg, VA 23188 | Phone: 757.301.9500