Over the past couple of weeks we have taken a closer look at some common estate planning myths. This week, we are going to look at myths that surround elder law topics. Like estate planning, elder law is something that is mostly a concern to people as they get older, but something people of all ages need to consider.
The reality is, we never know what is going to happen in the future, and we need to be prepared for anything. Because of this, knowing how to prepare for a situation in which you might confront an elder law issue is essential. If you’re relying on common myths and misconceptions, you will not be as well prepared as you should be.
Myth: I don’t need to worry about elder law because I created a plan years ago.
That you have taken the time to create an estate plan and address important elder law issues is excellent. Congratulations. Most people never get around to taking this step, and being even somewhat prepared is far better than having no plan at all.
However, like your car, an estate or elder law plan requires regular maintenance and attention. You cannot simply create a plan and let it sit in your drawer for years on end. Every year or so you should go over your plan and make sure that it still matches your needs.
Whether you have gone through divorce, have had a significant change in your financial circumstances, have moved, or haven’t done anything at all since you first made your plan, you need to review it. Laws change all the time, and if you haven’t updated your plan in several years, there might be several options or opportunities you might not be aware of.
Myth: I’m not old, so I don’t need to worry about elder law.
While most people who deal with elder law issues are seniors, these issues can often affect people of a much younger age. Whether you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition, or have a family member who is aging and needs assistance, you can never know when you might need the assistance of an elder law attorney.
Myth: I don’t need to worry about nursing home expenses because I’ll just use Medicaid.
While you might be able to qualify for Medicaid, this is often very difficult to do. Further, a lot of people believe that they can simply qualify for the Medicaid program by giving their assets away until they meet the asset limitation requirements.
Medicaid is very strict when it comes to gift giving, and your application will be reviewed in light of the gifts you’ve given within the past five years. If the gifts you’ve given in that time cause you to exceed the asset limitations, you won’t be able to qualify.