May is National Elder Law Month! This month we show support for people who are age sixty-five and older. All around the nation, you will find activities that are geared specifically toward making sure seniors have the support, resources, and information they need to age successfully!
Part of our law practice is designed to specifically support seniors, caregivers, and their loved ones. We know that aging is not easy on anyone. For seniors, it could be that you or your spouse is facing an uncertain future with regard to your long-term care needs. While, for the adult child, you are looking to balance an unpaid caregiving schedule for both a minor child and an aging parent. No matter what your age, we know at times it can seem like there is a new obstacle at every turn.
May reminds us to focus on the seniors around us. We need to either take action as the senior, or talk to the seniors we love, to ensure decisions relating to healthcare, finances, and long-term care needs, are made early and well planned for. Let us share three of the ways we recommend you get started this May!
1. Start planning now for long-term care.
Aging is expensive. There are traditional medical bills together with the possible bills that result from a crisis, including nursing home co-payments and physical rehabilitation costs. Not all of these costs will be covered by Medicare, and some will not be covered at all. Medi-Cal is a government benefit service that can help cover the costs of a skilled nursing home, and in-home service specialists in certain circumstances, but you must qualify. You do not want to wait for when you actually need long-term care to start to plan for it. Not only will there be additional stress on you and your loved ones, but you may not be able to access the benefits you need at that critical time.
2. Be sure to revise your estate plan so it is current.
According to California law, if you die without a will, trust or other provision for the distribution of your money and property, that money and property will be distributed according to the intestacy laws. The intestacy laws of California may or may not reflect who you actually want to receive your money at your death. Planning for your assets in your death, however, is only one part of the equation. You need to plan now through the use of advanced directives such as a health-care power of attorney or durable power of attorney, to make sure that you have given legal authority to a decision maker who can act in your stead in the event of a crisis where you are incapacitated.
3. Be conscious of scams that target seniors.
There is an entire group of people who target seniors age sixty-five and older. Their objectives are to scam the senior out of income, assets, and their identity. They are relying on seniors not only have more money, but to be more trustworthy than other age groups and more easily emotionally manipulated. In California, the most common scams have to do with identity theft with the perpetrators posing as Medicare representative to gain information over the phone. Beware of strangers calling and asking for your social security information and never give it out.
Use these tips to help yourself as a senior or to help you support the seniors that you love. While May is a great reminder for seniors and their loved ones to plan forward because it is National Elder Law Month, remember there is never a wrong time to plan. Use these ideas to get started and ensure that the rest of this year, and all the years to come, find you are protected for the future.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.