Last week we discussed how important it was to provide the attorney with information about your health and your health insurance coverage. This week we will explain why sharing comprehensive financial information allows an elder law attorney to advise you about long-term care options and strategies for protecting assets
Providing detailed information on income is critical
Most seniors receive some form of social security, and for many, this may be their only source of income. Others may have pensions, retirement, or other supplemental income. Understanding the income level allows the attorney to educate families on the type of care their loved one can realistically afford. It also allows the attorney to determine how long your loved one’s money will last once they start paying for care. Income is a critical component in determining qualification for public benefits, in particular if a Qualified Income Trust or QIT is required. Review Medicaid’s income requirements here
Elder law attorneys will want to review income documentation, like social security award letters, pension statements, and other proof of income. Bank statements can also be helpful in determining this information if other proof of income is unavailable.
Sharing information about your home
Protecting a family home can is often the first action item for families when they meet with an elder law attorney. For most of the clients we serve, their home is their most valuable asset. Elder law attorneys need to know if an individual owns real property, (a home or land). The attorney will want to know the value of the property, if there is a mortgage and how it is titled on the deed. The attorney can help determine how titling may affect probate, or how to avoid a probate scenario altogether. Read more about property issues here
There are also very specific rules regarding real property for both Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance. Be sure to consult with a Certified Elder Law Attorney to discuss protecting your largest asset and avoiding Estate Recovery if your loved one needs nursing home care.
Do you have additional assets?
Even though the house is typically the most valuable asset, the attorney also needs to know what is in the checking and savings accounts, as well as any investment accounts, stocks, and bonds. Elder Law attorneys will also need to know about retirement funds, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s. Just like with income, knowing your assets helps the attorney determine what type of care your loved one can afford and for how long. Just like with income, understanding your total assets allows an elder law attorney to advise you about public benefit qualification