We sat down recently with Attorney Lyndsie Curry, who has spent a good deal of her practice in elder law. She shared with us on a recent video ten important things that older adults in Alabama need to know about the law to help them prepare for the natural transitions of life. Here’s what we learned through the interview, hosted by Fair Haven’s Lifestyle Specialist Ardell Fleeson.
#1 – Talk to your family.
Let your family know what your preferences are, from how to be treated if you can’t make care decisions for yourself to who you want to manage your financial affairs if you are no longer able to do so.
#2 – You get to say who is in charge.
An elder law attorney can help you designate the people you want to make health care decisions or financial decisions on your behalf.
#3 – You can assign different people to different tasks.
If you have one child that is better on the business side, you may want that child to be in charge of your finances, and let your emotional child manage your health care decisions. You can select the same person for multiple roles, but you don’t have to.
#4 – A judge will decide if you don’t.
If you do not make these decisions for yourself, then the day may come when a judge has to decide for you.
#5 – The judicial process is expensive.
The guardianship process is very expensive and time-consuming. Power of attorney designations are not expensive – usually a few hundred dollars. The judicial process can cost thousands of dollars to make decisions for you.
#6 – The legislature of Alabama gave you a backup (but you may not like it).
In Alabama, if you pass away without a will, the Alabama Legislature has given you a backup: half of your estate goes to your surviving spouse and half will be divided among your children. Many spouses, however, especially those in their 70s or older, need all the money and assets for their continued care and living expenses.
#7 – Health insurance doesn’t cover long-term care.
If you don’t have long-term care insurance, your health insurance provider is not going to provide money for skilled nursing care or assisted living. This is something you will need to plan for out-of-pocket unless you can get Medicaid, which will only cover skilled nursing.
#8 – You don’t have to spend all your money down to qualify for Medicaid.
There is planning that an elder law attorney can do to help you supplement your care as you are on Medicaid, or protect some assets for your spouse so that they can get the care they need.
#9 – Do-It-Yourself planning can cost you.
The Medicaid rule book is about as thick as the tax code, so it’s not something you want to do on your own. If you try to do it yourself, it could cost you tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in the long-run.
#10 – Gather a record of your assets.
Make a little book of your financial life (accounts, assets, deeds, insurance policies, etc.), and your health care and your estate planning, and then give a copy to your children.
There is a lot of comfort for older adults and their families in having a plan for the future, if and when it is needed. If you would like to talk with Lyndsie Curry to get help finding an elder law attorney to assist you with estate and health planning, she would welcome your call at 205-915-0180.
For more information about life at Fair Haven, including details on our how to make Fair Haven your new home, contact Lifestyle Specialist Ardell Fleeson at 205-956-4150, or send an email to her at AFleeson@fairhavenbirmingham.org.