When you think about the adage “growing old is a privilege”, you realize the senior years of life can be a time of great fulfillment. Everything from experiencing the gratifying hug of a grandchild or great-grandchild, or reminiscing with old friends on a weekday morning, hot cup of coffee in hand.
Through all the joyful moments, it is easy to neglect some important decisions that must be made before you can truly bask in the twilight years. But, with proper estate planning, you can ensure your needs are taken care of and the opportunity is available to enjoy the culmination of a good life: Yours!
There are some simple ways to make certain your wishes are being met as you age, including one of the most critical: Where do you want to live? Will you stay at home? Reside in assisted living?
Whatever the decision, beginning your journey with a certified elder law attorney (CELA) is a recommended option by the National Elder Law Foundation. In fact, in the state of Massachusetts, there are just 24 CELAs, and our firm, Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., belongs to this elite group with two in-house certified elder law attorneys.
Why wait? Here are three things to consider when deciding whether to stay at home as you age or opt for assisted living or other long-term care facility.
1. There’s no Plan A without a Plan B. Most people want to remain in their home as long as possible, but you must still prepare for that option. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), it is important for retired people to have a solid financial plan for living at home and paying the bills well before retiring and eventually transitioning into a new phase of life. An estate plan can provide the information your family needs, should you require the help of a caregiver. Documenting your wishes in a formal plan also is important should you become unable to care for yourself, according to the National Institute on Aging. In that case, make sure you have a Plan B. A nursing home with continual care may be the best fit for you and your family. Or, an assisted living facility could be your top pick. There, you can maintain independence, while getting help with some daily activities.
2. No replacement for good research. Medicare.gov offers information about long-term care options. Before you make decisions about long-term care, it is important to talk to someone you trust, including family members, your health-care provider, or a counselor. Organizations, such as an Aging and Disability Resource Center(ADRC), Area Agency on Aging (AAA), or Center for Independent Living (CIL), can provide information to help you make an informed choice. The Assisted Living Federation of America offers a consumer checklist; plus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an ElderCare locator. And, a CELA can help you navigate the financial and legal pathways to align your wishes with your reality. As you age, your family may face challenging decisions regarding care. Providing them with instructions in advance can help ease the process.
3. What can you afford? Should you face a serious health problem, you may not be able to afford the help you need without proper planning. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that skilled nursing care can cost up to $8,000 a month for a private room and a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living community can cost upward of $4,500. Long-term care also is not covered by health or disability insurance, or Medicare. That said, seniors can suffer devastating losses to their estates in order to cover the expense of long-term care. Asset preservation through estate planning can help all seniors, regardless of estate size, protect their life savings and property from the costs of such care for years to come.
We care about your family’s peace of mind as much as you do. Secure it for generations to come by visiting a Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., office near you today. With locations in Easton, Hyannis and New Bedford, it’s easy to see we are committed to serving greater Massachusetts. Find out more or sign up for our free seminars at www.MyFamilyEstatePlanning.com.