Denver Elder Law
Aging is part of life, but many people are so busy living that they fail to adequately prepare for their golden years. However, planning for later life and potential mental incapacity can protect you from individuals who want to take advantage of you as well as help your loved ones provide the care and treatment you desire and deserve.
Medicaid in Colorado
To qualify for Medicare an applicant must meet strict income and asset guidelines. Medicaid recipients in Colorado are generally not allowed to have more than $2,000 in countable assets. These assets include such as checking, savings, and investment accounts. There are exceptions for some assets such as a principal residence, vehicle, life insurance, and some personal property. Be that as it may, there are limitations to these exemptions as well.
Americans with higher levels of assets and income will often be forced to ‘spend down’ their savings. They also need to reduce other resources before they can meet the Medicaid threshold and qualify for long-term care. Initially, they will pay for long-term care with their own savings, only after everything else runs out they can qualify for Medicaid. The average monthly cost of care for an assisted living facility is north of $7,000. Those with little savings risk paying these fees without government help.
Spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid long-term care means almost nothing will be left behind for the next generation. Americans should not be forced to decide between paying for the care they need during their later years or leaving nothing behind for their loved ones.
Who is in Need of a Guardianship and Conservatorship?There are many situations in which an adult may need someone appointed as their guardian or conservator. The following includes a situation that would call for a guardianship or conservatorship:
- An adult suffers some type of illness or accident that results in mental or physical limitations or both and is no longer able to care for themselves and manage their affairs.
- An older adult develops a physical or mental disability as a normal part of the aging process or due to a medical condition that develops as they age.
- A child suffers from a mental illness, developmental disability or physical disability and reaches the age of 18 but is unable to care for their own welfare and affairs and is dependent on another person for their needs.
When planning for your later years, you need to consider who will manage your personal finances and healthcare if you become too ill to do so yourself as well as what type of end-of-life care you want to receive. Generally, these issues are covered in the following documents:
Financial power of attorney: This document specifies who should take over financial decision making on your behalf if you become incapacitated and gives this individual power to pay bills, make investments, manage assets, file taxes, etc., on your behalf.
Revocable living trust: When establishing a trust to protect your assets, you can name a successor trustee to administer the trust if you become incapacitated. (Learn more about revocable living trusts.)
Living will: A living will enables you to detail exactly what type of care you wish to receive if you are no longer well enough to speak on your own behalf, including what life-saving interventions you deem acceptable.
Medical power of attorney: With this legal document, you determine who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
HIPAA authorization: State and federal laws prohibit the release of individuals’ medical information without their written consent. This document gives medical professionals the permission they need to share information regarding your health status and care to the individuals you have specified.
Discussions about your potential incapacity and end-of-life wishes are not easy; however, planning for these situations in advance can protect your financial wealth, ensure your healthcare wishes are honored, and save your family additional stress during a particularly difficult time.