What Is a Life Care Plan?Schedule Consultation
What Is A Life Care Plan?
The Life Care Plan is different from any other business dealing you may have had with another lawyer or other professional such as your doctor.
Most lawyers deal in “transactions.” That means you pay a fee to the lawyer for a transaction: for example, the lawyer closes a real estate contract for you and you pay him a fee for the service. That’s a transaction, and once the transaction is completed, the legal representation ends.
By contrast, your Life Care Plan with us is a “relationship.” Although we do legal documents for you, help you with accessing and advocating for good care, and represent you in making application for public benefits, those services form part of our relationship with you.
The Life Care Plan places special emphasis on issues surrounding long life. It connects your concerns about long-term care as you go through the later stages of your life with our knowledge and expertise at Keystone Elder Law.
Life Care Planning
Life care planning began in the field of personal injury litigation. The intent was to provide costs for care, equipment, supplies and other needs resulting from the injury.
Today, the definition and use of life care plans has evolved beyond litigation. In 1998, the International Academy of Life Care Planners and others described the life care plan as a dynamic document based upon published standards, comprehensive assessment, data analysis and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs, with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs.
For your Life Care Plan to be successful, all of us must have an understanding of your diagnoses, medical treatment, estimated costs of treatment and services, factors affecting care outcomes, psychosocial implications, and ongoing health care and long-term care needs. We must be knowledgeable about community resources and eligibility for these resources. Furthermore, we must be able to identify and develop alternatives for care consistent with patient/family needs. A Life Care Plan represents the integration of these issues into a plan to meet individual needs.
There are three principal goals of the Life Care Plan that we help you develop and implement:
1. We help make sure that you or your loved one gets good care, whether that care is at home or outside the traditional home setting. This is the most important of all goals, for it goes to the very heart of your quality of life in your later years. Your Life Care Plan is focused first on your good health, safety, and well-being.
2. We help you make decisions relating to your long-term care and special needs. We are your resource of experienced, supportive, knowledgeable, and objective advisors.
3. We help you find sources to pay for good long-term care. We work with you through the maze of choices and options to find the best, or often, the most comfortable solution to the asset protection problem created by the need to pay for quality long-term care.
Your Care Questions Answered
We will help you answer your questions about your long-term care and health care choices:
• What health care, chronic care, and long-term care services are available to me? How can I get the good care I need and desire, whether in my own home, in a residential community or assisted-living facility, in a child’s home, or in a nursing home?
• How will financial and health care decisions be made for me if I cannot make them for myself? Who can I rely on to make sure that decisions to be made are the right ones?
• If I can’t take care of myself, who will make sure my spouse continues to have a good quality of life?
• If there a health care crisis, what will we have to do? Where do we turn for the help we need?
• How do I know I am getting good care? Who will advocate and intervene for me if necessary to ensure my right to quality health care and long-term care?
A Life Care Plan helps you and your loved ones answer other pressing questions as well:
• How do I assure my financial security as I get older?
• What public benefits am I entitled to, and what do I have to do to qualify for them?
• Should I rely on Medicaid or other government benefits to help pay for my care? How do I apply for benefits?
• What kinds of insurance do I need? Should I buy long-term care insurance? Should I join a Medicare HMO?
• How and when should I distribute my assets? Can I save taxes and avoid probate?
• Do I have to spend all of my money on my care, whether in my home or in a residential care facility such as a nursing home? How can I protect my assets to take care of my spouse, to ensure I get good care, or to leave to my children?
• How do I provide for family members with special needs?
Your Road Map
Your Life Care Plan will be customized to fit your desires and needs. Your Life Care Plan can then provide you the road map to follow to achieve your care and asset protection goals. And, when changes occur, we stay with you every step of the way to help you shift to another road as it becomes necessary.
Your Life Care Plan therefore includes both elder law and care assessment and coordination services.
Reproduced with permission of Tim Takacs.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney can be used to give another person the right to sell a car, home, or other property in the place of the maker of the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney might be used to allow another person to sign a contract for the maker of the Power of Attorney (the person who makes a power of attorney is called the “principal”). It can be used to give another person the authority to make health care decisions, do financial transactions, or sign legal documents that the principal cannot do for one reason or another. With few exceptions, Powers of Attorney can give others the right to do any legal acts that the makers of the Powers of Attorney could do them themselves. A General Power of Attorney gives the “power of attorney Agent” or simply “Agent” (the legal name of the person who is authorized to act for the principal) very broad powers to do almost every legal act that the principal can do. When Elder Law Attorneys draft general Powers of Attorney, they still list the types of things the Agent can do but these powers are very broad. People often do general Powers of Attorney to plan ahead for the day when they may not be able to take care of things themselves. By doing the General Power of Attorney, they designate someone who can do these things for them.
Normal Powers of Attorney terminate if and when the principal becomes incompetent. Yet many people do Powers of Attorney for the sole purpose of designating someone else to act for them if they cannot act for themselves. It is precisely when persons can no longer do for themselves that a Power of Attorney is most valuable. To remedy this inconsistency, the law created a Durable Power of Attorney that remains effective even if a person becomes incompetent. The only thing that distinguishes a Durable Power of Attorney from a regular Power of Attorney is special wording that states that the power survives the principal’s incapacity. Even a Durable Power of Attorney, however, may be terminated under certain circumstances if court proceedings are filed. Most Powers of Attorney done today are durable.
Yes. At the time the Power of Attorney is signed, the principal must be capable of understanding the document. Although a Power of Attorney is still valid if and when a person becomes incompetent, the principal must understand what he or she is signing at the moment of execution. That means a person can be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease or be otherwise incompetent sometimes but as long as they have a lucid moment and are competent at the moment they sign the Power of Attorney, it is valid even if they do not remember signing it at a later date. At the time it is signed, the principal must know what the Power of Attorney does, whom they are giving the Power of Attorney to, and what property may be affected by the Power of Attorney.
Any competent person eighteen years of age and older can serve as an agent. Certain financial institutions can also serve. There is no course of education that agent must complete or any test that Agent must pass. Because a Power of Attorney is such a potentially powerful document, agents should be chosen for reliability and trustworthiness. In the wrong hands, a Power of Attorney can be a license to steal. It can be a big responsibility to serve as an agent.
Medicare is health insurance and covers medical services such as physician appointments, therapy, blood tests, x rays, medical procedures and hospitalization. Medicare will sometime pay for rehabilitation in a long-term care facility for a period of 20 to 100 days, but not longer. In long-term care, Medicaid covers the cost of ongoing support services for daily functioning, such as room and board in a nursing home.
Medicaid is a federal program that is overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In Pennsylvania, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance and is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
In Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are not available to pay for assisted living or personal care.
For Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing home, an individual recipient must be determined to need a nursing home level of care by a physician and the local Office of Aging. An individual whose income is not greater than three times the poverty level may keep up to $8,000 of total resources, but may otherwise keep only $2,400. The cash value of life insurance counts as a resource, but one car and a residential home does not count as a resource.
Empowering Clients with Holistic Planning at
Keystone Elder Law
At Keystone Elder Law, we believe that the physical, social, legal, and financial considerations of our clients all intertwine. We utilize an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate each area, which allows for the creation of a plan that addresses the concerns of the individual as a whole as well as the family. To this end, our model of practice includes a Care Coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker), whose expertise complements our team of attorneys.
When the road of life is smooth, decisions about legal and financial matters are easy to push aside for “a rainy day.” Planning ahead, however, will allow for more options as you view the map of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Don’t let a crisis limit your choices or derail your plans.(717) 697-3223