(BLOOMFIELD, CT)- September 3, 2015- When asked what they want out of life, most people would answer to live as long as possible, as well as possible, where they want to, and perhaps pass on an inheritance to their children or other heirs. But unless a concrete coordinated estate and financial plan is put into place, none of those goals can be achieved. Eldercare Lawyer Henry Weatherby, Founding Principal of Weatherby & Associates, PC in Bloomfield, CT understands it’s not pleasant to consider the challenges many of us will face as we age.
“We consult with people every day who believe that their health won't change, nothing bad financially will happen to them or their loved ones, and basically they're all set because they are saving for retirement,” explains Weatherby. “However, they need to create a comprehensive plan that fits their situation and can respond appropriately to the inevitable changes that will occur.” One change for senior adults may be moving from their home to an assisted living facility. During National Assisted Living Week from September 13th to 19th, Weatherby encourages seniors to think about their future living arrangements and long-term care, then decide when and where to make the move. Ideally, planning should begin many years before it's even considered a remote possibility. In fact preplanning may eliminate the need to ever live anywhere but your own home.
Weatherby has identified the top ten questions that need to be answered before they threaten you and your family’s security and assets:
1. How will I pay for long-term care if I need it?
Assuming most people will need long-term care at some point in their wives, the most affordable long-term care policies should be purchased your late 50’s early 60’s in advance. Connecticut, like many states, has recognized that people frequently do better in their own homes instead of an institutional setting; therefore, programs like the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders are available to help pay for in-home care giving services for elders who qualify.
2. How will my spouse maintain his or her lifestyle if I need long-term care (both financial and emotional/avoiding caregiver burnout)?
Most assisted living facilities do not qualify for Medicaid/Title XIX benefits, so the length of stay in assisted living would be privately paid in most cases. With the assistance of our on-staff social worker, we will advocate for you with the assisted living facility as needed, and will check in with your spouse quarterly.
3. How will I be assured of the best quality of life possible?
Your estate planning team should be in regular communication with your family to help assure that your needs are being met and that you can enjoy your favorite recreational opportunities.
4. Who will make financial decisions for me when I can’t?
A comprehensive personalized Durable Power of Attorney will name someone who can handle your financial matters, including everything from daily bill paying and income tax filings to sophisticated estate tax planning and establishing trusts that will protect your assets and help you qualify for long-term care benefits.
5. Who will make personal and health care decisions for me when I can’t?
An Appointment of Health Care Representative designates someone you trust to make health care decisions for you when you no longer can do so yourself. If you haven’t appointed a health care representative in the proper method in writing then when you become incapacitated no one will have legal authority to do so for you. The probate court may then be required to appoint a conservator to make the needed medical decisions. It is possible that this will be a person you would not want or even someone you do not know.
6. Who will care for anyone else that may be dependent on me?
If you are caring for a disabled child, for example, proper estate planning can assure you that a plan of care is in place that will continue beyond your lifetime. This would include identifying an appropriate care manager, appropriate services and lifestyle choices as well as maximizing the funds available to care for the disabled child.
7. How will I maintain control of my person and my assets as much as possible?
You need to have a plan in plan in place if you are over 18 or older. In Connecticut, you have an opportunity document who is to be in charge of your person and your assets when you cannot be for any reason. By doing this you can avoid the excess involvement of the Probate Court in your affairs. This way those people you best trust to take care of you and your finances will be able to do so.
8. How can I be sure my end-of-life wishes are respected?
In addition to carefully selecting your Health Care Representative, a Living Will gives you the opportunity to spell out your wishes regarding palliative care and extraordinary medical measures to be taken or to not be taken when you are in a persistent vegetative state or when death is imminent. You can also spell out at what point you want your Health Care Representative to act on your written wishes.
9. How can I minimize any conflict among family members if I become incapacitated?
Having a well-thought-out and easily understandable plan, in combination with frequent communication about your plan, is the best way to minimize conflicts. A long term relationship with your elder law attorney who knows your wishes and your family is also important.
10. How can I best provide for my family after my death?
Clarify your specific goals then have precise, comprehensive legal documents created that are written as much as possible in plain English. The plan should take into account, as much as possible the unknown future events that might disrupt your plan, and build in provisions for as much or as little flexibility as you want.
“I believe that it is only possible to truly and effectively plan for a client if we have made them aware of these issues and discussed potential consequences for having failed to address them,” said Weatherby. “Once we've done that and understand their priorities, we can then put their plan in place. Then combined with our systems and processes protect what is important to them for the remainder of their lives.”
In fact, Weatherby & Associates, PC goes beyond just making plans and drafting documents. The firm has developed its exclusive LifeBridgeTM program: a unique approach to ensure each participant’s plan is reviewed regularly and updated according to changes in laws or to a client’s life situation. With annual reviews and assessments, no-cost simple changes, discounted fees for major changes, and online access to documents, LifeBridgeTM transforms one’s estate plan from a static set of documents into a living, growing, changing entity that is highly flexible and responsive to changes in life and in the law. The price for estate planning varies widely, but it is not only for the wealthy. Each family has different needs, wants, concerns and budgets.
For over 20 years, the attorneys at Weatherby & Associates, PC have helped Connecticut families set goals and turn them into reality, creating a better, more secure future. From estate planning and asset protection strategies to probate, business succession planning, administering estates and helping ensuring the best health care possible for loved ones in need, Weatherby & Associates, PC takes a close look at the unique needs of every individual, family or business to develop a truly individualized strategy that is sure to achieve their objectives. Visit: www.weatherby-associates.com
Press release issued September 3, 2015