Elder Law

As you age there are many issues that come up. Some include who will help you with your finances, take care of you, and the inevitable - will I end up in a nursing home. 

Elder Law in Arkansas

Arkansas Nursing Home Costs

In Arkansas the average price of a nursing home stay is $160/day, or $58,400/year. As you can imagine this can and will consume most of our life savings in a short period. Moreover, it will leave our loved ones (spouses, children, or both) with less resources for the remainder of their lives. The Medicaid system is full of rules and regulations that are difficult to understand. These rules are difficult and nuanced enough that most lawyers do not even understand them. Every situation is different, but we can typically save families at least 50% of their assets and sometimes as much as 75% of their assets. Protect What Matters, your family.

The consistently high costs for home health care, assisted living and nursing home care across the U.S. underscore the need to address long-term care as part of financial security planning. Further complicating the issue, America is getting older. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than any other age group, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statistics show that people reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.8 years for women and 17.1 years for men).Most people realize they will need care, and yet they’re not sure how they will plan for it.

The Cost of a Nursing Home

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A Cost of Long-Term Care study done in 2011 concluded:

Assisted living facilities: The national average monthly rate for a private, single-occupancy room in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $3,372.41. The national average monthly rate for a shared room in an assisted living facility was $2,592.40.

Home health care: The national average hourly rate for home health aides provided by a certified home health care agency was $20.65. The national average hourly rate for home health aides provided by a non-certified home health care agency was $23.98.

Long-term care: The costs vary considerably across the country. The average for an Arkansas nursing home  for the monthly rate for a room in a nursing home is $3,372.41.

Medicaid planning can be divided into two types: pre-crisis planning and crisis planning. Pre-crisis planning is for those individuals who have not yet begun to spend their assets on private care, but may need to in the coming years. Crisis planning is for those individuals using their life savings for long-term care, either at home or in a facility, with a substantial risk that they will run out of money.

Elder Law: Medicaid Crisis Planning

Clients come to us when an elderly relative is hospitalized or already in a nursing home for rehab or long term care. Sometimes the elder is already paying privately for nursing home care. They assume that the elder must spend down all of their assets on private nursing home costs. Wilson & Haubert, PLLC can help transition from  private paying the nursing home to protect assets for the elder’s benefit, and qualify the elder for Medicaid to pay the nursing home costs.

Elder Law: Medicaid Pre-Crisis Planning

A large part of Wilson & Haubert, PLLC’s practice areas is Estate Planning. Pre-Crisis Planning begins before our clients enter the nursing home. It is best to complete Pre-Crisis planning before the  5 year (60 month) Medicaid look back period. When we plan for clients that might be affected with the high cost of long-term care we incorporate Medicaid planning into their Estate Plan. There are numerous ways to plan for protecting your assets from nursing home expenses.

Medicaid Eligibility

In Arkansas the Medicaid program is administered by the Department of Human Services. Usually the countable assets requirement for a single person is limited to $2,000.00 and it is $3,000.00 for a couple. If you give any money away to qualify for Medicaid there is a 60 month look back period and the applicant will be penalized for gifts during that time period. The penalty given is ineligibility for Medicaid benefits, the more money you give away the longer you are ineligible for Medicaid. If you are in Arkansas and need to plan for Medicaid or if you are already paying for the cost of long-term care, please give us a call. We would love to help.

Cost of an Elder Care Attorney

The cost of an elder care lawyer depends on the specific situation our clients are in. The situation could call for little work, or it could call for moving many assets, retirement accounts, the house, the farm, the family, etc. For that reason the fee can vary depending on the client. The practices we use save our clients money, even after our fee. If you need help in this area of law, please Contact Us.

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Senior Guardianships

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Over five million Americans suffer from dementia. This serious loss of brain function hinders the ability of seniors to care for themselves and make sound decisions. In these cases, a guardianship may be necessary to protect their quality of care, assets and legacy.

Guardianships for Adults

Guardianship is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward, under the supervision of a guardian.  There are two main types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate..

A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a senior who is no longer able to make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property, or who is prone to fraud or undue external influence.

Appointment of a guardian can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Right to Due Process

In order to safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she is provided with notice and is entitled to attend all legal proceedings related to guardianship. In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Guardianship of the Person

Guardianship of the person grants authority over non-financial matters such as issues that impact the personal well-being of the protected person, including making important medical decisions. The appointed guardian is normally tasked with the following responsibilities

  • Determining and maintaining residence
  • Providing informed consent to and supervising medical treatment
  • Consenting to and supervising non-medical services such as education, psychiatric or behavioral counseling
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Maintaining the protected person’s autonomy as much as possible

Guardianship of the Estate

Guardianship of the estate empowers the guardian to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets

Wilson & Haubert, PLLC routinely works with seniors and their loved ones to determine the best course of action, file the required paperwork and represent them in proceedings with the appropriate administrative agencies. We also work with the guardian to keep an up-to-date accounting of the estate.

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