Kathleen Cossa, PLC an elder law attorney, was our speaker. She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. www.naela.org.
Kathleen suggested that the most important document everyone should have is a Durable Power of Attorney should you be incapacitated and can no longer manage your affairs as determined by a doctor.
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney will allow the person(s) you appoint to handle your financial affairs, such as paying bills or selling your home. If you don’t have this document, the court will appoint a conservator. This document should be kept in a safe place because only the original will do business, but your agent(s) should know where it is. It is useful to have your agent(s) listed with your bank, and also on your checking account so they can pay your bills.
A Durable Medical Power of Attorney is sometimes combined with an Advanced Directive, also known as a Living Will. The Medical PoA appoints an agent. The Living Will states how you wish to be cared for with regards to life-prolonging medical care. It should include HIPAA authorization (which is sometimes a separate document). This document should be given to all agents involved. In fact, your agents should be involved in the creation of the document because they will represent you should you be incapacitated and they should clearly understand your wishes. It is their duty to be sure you are not in pain. It is also useful for your doctor to have a copy.
MOST IMPORTANT is to create these documents in advance and keep them up to date!
Supplemental or Special Needs Trusts provide funds for things like extra rehab, a private room and/or a companion for a disabled spouse.
Have you heard of Aid & Attendance? Many people haven’t. It is a special tax-free pension for people who need assistance with activities of daily living.
It is available to veterans who served 90 days in war time, did not receive a dishonorable discharge and who can’t afford care for the rest of their lives. It is also available for the spouse/widow. There is no transfer penalty for gifting and attorneys can’t charge to complete the application. The average time for the application to go through is 6 months. Click here for more information from the Veterans Administration website.
There were questions about Medicaid and gifting, but I didn’t fully understand the answers so I don’t want to give you incorrect information. I can say that the lookback period is now 60 months (5 years)
Kathleen left quite a few copies of her handout: Essential Legal Documents As You Age and I’ll bring them to the next meeting. It explains in much more detail about life care planning, and Durable Power of Attorney documents.
Progress Pharmacy in Chantilly will repackage meds so they can be dispensed to someone living in an assisted living community.