Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trendspotting: Paying Family Member to Pay for Elder Parent

A Dec. 11, 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal identifies a trend in family care giving that is exacerbated by the slow economy. In Family Value: Should You Pay a Relative to Take Care of Mom?, reporter Anne Turgensen writes, "When caregivers make financial sacrifices, elder-law attorneys say, it is often appropriate to compensate them. Some 37% of caregivers surveyed by the NAC in 2007 said they had quit a job or reduced their hours to accommodate their responsibilities."

The article makes the point confirmed by several elder law attorneys that it is important to notify the family when such an arrangement is made. And exactly how the payment is made can have a big impact on the estate-planning goals of the family member receiving the care, as well as tax consequences. And, states the article,  "if a parent may need to rely on Medicaid to cover future nursing-home costs, it is important to pay the caregiver in a way that is permitted under Medicaid law."

See the full WSJ article here: Should You Pay A Relative?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Is Elder Law?

What is Elder Law? According to information on the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys...

"Elder law attorneys concentrate on issues that concern older individuals and their families. One of the most common concerns presented to elder law attorneys is the wish to avoid complete impoverishment if long-term care is needed. In addition to helping protect assets from nursing home expenses, elder law attorneys:
  • Advise about Social Security, Social Security Disability, and other public and private retirement benefits.

  • Prepare wills, trusts, and other documents so that property will pass efficiently to beneficiaries.

  • Assist families in administering estates.

  • Advise whether to buy long-term care and supplemental insurance, and evaluate proposed policies.

  • Assist in applying for Medicaid (MassHealth in Massachusetts), Medicare, and other government programs.

  • Make sure the nursing home patient's rights are respected.

  • Respond to quality of care complaints.

  • Represent clients in disputes involving nursing homes, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or managed care.

  • Help address instances of elder abuse or fraud.
Attorneys who work primarily with the elderly appreciate the complex financial and social realities and are able to address their clients' legal issues in a comprehensive way. They often work with other professionals such as accountants, financial planners, and geriatric care managers to ensure a coordinated plan."

See the web site for a more detailed definition of Elder Law.