Elder Law Attorney Lafayette, LA
Theus Law Offices has an elder law attorney Lafayette, LA area residents trust with important decisions regarding care options. We understand the importance of family and the obligation to provide and afford long-term care for our senior loves ones. Difficult decisions must be made about care arrangements, such as assisted living or a nursing home. Any transition is stressful, but the convergence of challenging medical and financial decisions about long-term care for a loved family member are especially hard.
Our mission as an elder law attorney firm Lafayette, LA trusts is to minimize this difficult transition and to help prepare families both legally and financially for their next phase in life. Aside from the high cost of long-term care, degrees of comfort, happiness, quality of care, control, independence, and peaceful surroundings are all factors in the decision making process. Both medical and financial security are necessary to preserve and enhance quality of life for a senior loved one, which requires seasoned legal guidance from an elder lawyer in Lafayette, LA.
For more information and a free consultation about how best to protect assets and enhance care options, contact an elder law attorney in Lafayette, LA at Theus Law Offices.
Recommendations for Enhancing the Experience in a Living Facility
Adjusting to a new way of life in an assisted living facility or a nursing home can be challenging for a new resident. Visiting frequently helps greatly to make loved ones feel more at ease about their new living space. Quality time is important, so bringing photographs, toys, board or card games, and just being together will help immensely. Sometimes there can be a lingering sense of resentment, which can be difficult to overcome, but patience and time will help to mend bridges. Acceptance is the last stage of grief. Happiness is an end itself, so children, grandchildren and pets can lift the spirits immensely. Making new friends is important also, so it may be helpful to assist with introductions to other residents and to schedule activities together. All in all, transition is always difficult, so the more quality time you can spend with your loved one, the better, whether in person or virtually via Facetime or another video conferencing platform.
Tough Talk About Ultimate Wishes
Discussing financial and medical issues, as well as end of life planning can be difficult. As Lafayette, LA elder law attorneys, we understand what it takes to initiate these important conversations with your senior loved one. Often these discussions center around common estate planning issues like determining who will be in control, who should benefit, and when. These sensitive topics are easy to avoid or procrastinate, but the importance of establishing an effective estate plan cannot be understated.
A Louisiana elder law attorney in Lafayette, LA with Theus Law Offices can help guide the conversation. Common estate planning documents may include the following:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Trust
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Living Will (aka “Healthcare Directive”)
- HIPAA Authorization
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trust
Exploring Different Types of Elder Abuse
When you hear about elder abuse, you may think that the most obvious things to look out for will be signs of physical abuse. While this is true and you should know the signs, there are different types of elder abuse that may not be as obvious. Our attorneys understand the pain and hurt that come with realizing your loved one has been harmed when you believed they were safe. Read on to learn more about the different types of elder abuse and how you can spot the warning signs.
- Neglect. When your loved one is neglected, it means their basic human needs are not being met. This may mean that their caretaker is attempting to punish them in some way or may simply not be providing them with what they need. This could come in the form of not giving your loved one food or water, not bathing them or helping them use the bathroom, or not rotating them if they are bed-ridden. This can result in bedsores.
- Emotional abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, stripping your loved one of their dignity. The person harming your loved one may threaten them, isolate them from others in the facility or friends and family, and humiliate them in front of others.
- Financial abuse. If a caretaker has access to your loved one’s financial information, they may use their credit cards, withdraw money from their account, or even force or coerce your loved one into adding them to their will or estate plan.
- Sexual abuse. If a caretaker is sexually abusing your loved one, it could mean there is physical sexual abuse and you may be able to see the physical signs of this. The abuser may also be forcing them to watch sexual acts or pornography.
What if injuries are not obvious?
Injuries may not be obvious when abuse is happening because not all injuries will physical. You may notice signs of abuse through your loved one’s actions. They may seem more withdrawn, begin rocking, staying in the corner of their room, avoid seeing you or other loved ones, and become more aggravated and agitated. If you notice any new behaviors or behaviors that are unlike your loved one, it is important to gently try and speak with them to see what is happening. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, you should pull your loved one out of the facility they are staying in as quickly as possible and speak with an attorney about gathering evidence.
Asset Protection Trusts
Medicaid asset protection trusts (“MAPT”) are specially designed to both shield the value of assets transferred to trust from being considered “countable resources” for purposes of Medicaid qualification, and to avoid hidden tax consequences of direct gifts. Properly structured, a MAPT will both protect assets from the high cost of long-term care, as well as avoid unnecessary capital gains tax that may result from direct gifts to children. Making direct gifts to children is a tax trap for the unwary and usually results in avoidable tax being paid upon the sale of assets following the death of the donor. Theus Law Offices is a Medicaid law firm Lafayette, LA area residents turn to for seasoned advice about nursing home asset protection planning through irrevocable Medicaid asset protection trusts (sometimes referred to as “income only” trusts). For more information or a free consultation contact a Medicaid attorney in Lafayette, LA at Theus Law Offices.
Five-Year Lookback Period
The five (5) year lookback period is a trap for the unwary that can result in catastrophic financial consequences due to the mere mistiming of the filing of an application for Medicaid. Warning should be given to any transfers for less than fair market value (i.e., gifts) made by a Medicaid applicant within five (5) years of the date of a Medicaid application. Such transfers can be subject to a look-back period resulting in a significant penalty.
The penalty is computed as follows: (1) Combine all transfers for less than fair market value during the sixty (60) months preceding the date of the Medicaid application (referred to as the “snapshot date”) and divide that number by Louisiana’s Regional Divisor (currently $5,000 as of the calendar year 2020). For example, if a Medicaid applicant gave away a $200,000 house during the 5-year lookback period, the penalty would be 40 months of ineligibility for Medicaid benefits ($200,000 / $5,000 = 40). While the applicant in the example may be qualified for Medicaid and actually receive a Medicaid card, the applicant will receive no benefits for 40 months, which is a terrible result because the Medicaid applicant needs long-term care, has no countable resources to fund such care and Medicaid is not paying a dime for 40 months.
Nursing homes often assist residents with the preparation and filing of Medicaid applications. No matter how well intentioned, it is recommended to seek advice and consultation from a qualified Medicaid lawyer near Lafayette LA from Theus Law Office prior to filing any Medicaid application because mistiming the application can have significant adverse financial consequences at an especially difficult time.
Theus Law Offices is an Medicaid law firm Lafayette, LA resident turn to for seasoned Medicaid planning advice. If you feel that long-term care may be necessary for you or a love one, contact Theus Law Offices, a LA Medicaid law firm Lafayette, LA trust for proper Medicaid planning.
Personal Caregiver Agreements
A properly structure caregiver agreement can be an effective way to transfer assets to a friend or family member without incurring a penalty. The general notion is to allow payments to a family member or friend for providing care to an elderly loved one prior to filing a Medicaid application. Such payments would be considered a valid spenddown of assets and will not be considered a gift or donation if the Caregiver Agreement complies with Louisiana Medicaid rules and regulations. Payments under a Caregiver Agreement will be characterized as taxable income to the recipient, which is necessary to avoid treatment as a gift or donation that would otherwise trigger an eligibility penalty.
Caregiver agreements are carefully scrutinized by the Medicaid Division of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals upon the filing of any Medicaid application, so the form of the agreement is paramount. As any experienced LA Medicaid lawyer in Lafayette, LA should discuss with you, to be valid in the State of Louisiana, a Caregiver Agreement must include the following attributes:
- The compensation to be paid to the caregiver must be fair market value (consistent with the prevailing market rates) based upon the life expectancy tables and clearly set forth in the agreement
- The number of hours to be worked and the specific duties to be performed must be set forth in agreement
- The caregiver must maintain a daily log of hours actually worked with sufficient detail regarding the services performed
Transfers Between Spouses
Gifts or transfers between spouses will not trigger a penalty under current Louisiana Medicaid rules and regulations. As such, a strategy sometimes employed to qualify an in-need spouse for Medicaid benefits may include a transfer from the in-need spouse to a healthy (community) spouse. It should be kept in mind that the resources or assets of both spouses are countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes in Louisiana. The Community Spouse Resource Allowance (“CSRA”) in Louisiana is $128,640 (as of 2020), which allows a healthy spouse to own up to the CSRA without disqualifying the in-need spouse for Medicaid benefits. Spousal transfers should be structured with the current CSRA in mind.
Most states, including Louisiana, do not allow a healthy spouse to refuse to provide financial support to an in-need spouse. As such, it is not possible in Louisiana to simply transfer all assets of an in-need spouse to the community (healthy) spouse followed by a refusal to provide financial support. Divorce may be a viable nuclear option in extreme scenarios.
A Medicaid lawyer in Lafayette, LA from Theus Law Offices can provide seasoned guidance when optimizing donations between spouses to qualify for Medicaid.
An Elder Law Attorney in Lafayette, LA Who Can Help Plan Your Future
In the United States, a large part of the population has recently reached their retirement years. At this time, sensitive issues are likely to arise; such as Medicare or Medicaid planning, health care, long-term care, guardianship, conservatorship, estate planning, and more. As an elder law attorney Lafayette, LA, we help retirees, prospective retirees, and elderly people plan out these issues in an organized, well-structured way. Through due diligence and support, we make life a little bit easier. Talk to us today to explore what options may be right for you.
How a Lafayette, LA Elder Law Attorney Might Help You
There are a number of services that our firm offers, including:
- Talking about your estate planning options and what is right for you
- Helping you to understand the importance of a Will
- Discussing options for anyone in your care who has special needs or disabilities
- Going over the probate process and what your loved ones might expect
- Drafting a durable power of attorney
- Drafting guardianship documents
- Drafting healthcare directives
- Assist you in choosing a legal guardian
- Assist you with your life insurance, financial accounts, or retirement planning
- Help you with Medicare or Medicaid planning
The Importance of Conservatorship or Guardianship
If you or a loved one becomes incapacitated, and can no longer make important decisions regarding financial matters or health issues, assistance may be required. Without a durable power of attorney, or a living Will, the court may intervene. When they do this, they will be obligated to appoint a conservator.
Types of Conservator
Conservator of the Person – A conservator of the person ensures the incapacitated person will recieve the necessary medical treatment, food, shelter, and overall care. They will also be responsible for making decisions that are related to the conservatee (the person needing care).
Conservator of the Estate – When the court finds that the conservatee cannot make decisions related to their finances, or estate, the court may appoint a conservator. This person will have a duty to pay the conservatee’s bills and manage their finances.
As an elder law attorney in Lafayette, LA, we help clients to choose what is most appropriate to their needs and budget. Sometimes, we may recommend drafting a power of attorney, over a conservatorship. This is often true when a person is mentally sound, but cannot manage their finances accordingly. Anyone who is named to care for a person’s wellbeing, estate, or finances will have an obligation to record all of their actions or transactions. These records will need to be presented to the court on designated dates. Furthermore, at no time can the conservator mix their money with the conservatee’s own finances. If these duties are ignored or disregarded, it could be a breach. In this case, litigation may ensue.
Theus Law Offices: Elder Law Attorneys You Can Trust
Elder law planning is very important, and should not be disregarded. If you would like help to evaluate your needs, based on your situation, call a Lafayette, LA elder law attorney from Theus Law Offices today.
Call Theus Law Offices Today For Assistance
Our elder law team at Theus Law Offices knows that you want only the best for your elderly loved one. We understand that relocating a family member is quite stressful and may be met with some resistance. The importance of properly preparing both legally and financially for the final chapters of life cannot be understated. Establishing a well-developed estate plan with integrated asset protection features is necessary to properly plan and protect the legacy of your senior love one. For more information, please call Theus Law Offices today to speak with a seasoned elder law attorney Lafayette, Louisiana residents turn to for advice during this difficult time.