A married couple in their early 70s needing long-term care for the husband.
A lovely married couple in their early 70s were living independently at home in Minnesota. The wife called Maser, Amundson & Boggio saying, “I need to find somewhere for my husband to live. The problem is we have limited assets. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for this.” This is how our relationship began.
We scheduled a Zoom meeting with the couple, Allison Frasier, the elder law attorney, and Cindy Johnson, the elder care coordinator. Early in the conversation, it became clear that the couple would benefit from a Life Care Plan.
The wife was overwhelmed with where to start, how to navigate the many options of care and how to pay for it.
Her husband, a veteran, was experiencing memory loss with mild cognitive impairment, or early dementia. In addition to early dementia, he has had previous health concerns including a heart condition and depression for which he is medicated. The wife has been caring for her husband for over a decade in their home while maintaining a full-time job. With the increase of memory loss, the concern is now leaving him alone.
The reason Maser, Amundson & Boggio had been contacted was not just for how to care, but also because the wife was ill. Her physicians told her she is no longer able to be a primary caregiver for anyone; she needed to care for herself.
As we age, there comes a point we need to pivot and plan for what comes next for ourselves and those we love. This was that moment for this couple.
Finding the Best Course
Prior to our meeting, the couple was asked to complete an intake form. This form helps to paint a bigger picture of assets and liabilities in addition to their biographical information and personal wishes for care.
A brief review of the intake form (assuming the data was accurate and complete) and we knew the husband was eligible for Medical Assistance or Elderly Waiver Programs offered in Minnesota that help to pay for long-term care. After running a few numbers and reviewing exemptions, the wife’s total assets did not exceed the amount she can keep as a community spouse.
Cindy, the elder care coordinator, shared options regarding types of care based on his eligibility and care needs. Since the husband uses a walker and the wife handles upkeep of the home, errands, medication reminders, and assists with bathing, the recommendation from Cindy was to at least start with assisted living.
The wife had estate planning documents in place, but the husband did not. We knew there was work to be done to ensure this couple’s goals were met.
The Maser, Amundson & Boggio team was able to present a Life Care Plan. The plan will assist with establishing new legal documents, identifying and placing the husband in the appropriate care facility, assisting the husband with applying for public benefits and coordinating his care.
In this plan, the client retained the firm for a year and paid a flat fee upfront. At this point, Allison (attorney), Cindy (elder care coordinator), paralegal and support staff took over the tasks and timeline to implement a Life Care Plan.
Instantly, the wife felt relief knowing they were able to turn to a team to help with finding the best care for her husband and securing the benefits to help pay for that care. The challenge of coordinating these tasks at the same time when most facilities want payment or funds upfront was no longer in her hands.
A Life Care Plan in Action
Once the family agreed to move forward with the Life Care Plan, the first step was an onsite care assessment with Cindy, our elder care coordinator. As a result of the initial consultation, our team drafted legal documents including a power of attorney and health care directives to bring the assessment knowing the husband had nothing in place at the time.
Thankfully, the documents were signed at the assessment, given the husband had a medical emergency that landed him in hospital and eventually transitional care. The legal documents allowed his loved ones to make the necessary choices for him instead of leaving it to the state.
While in transitional care, the family was able to continue the process with his acting powers of attorney to assist in gathering information to complete his applications for skilled nursing, public benefits and, because he is a veteran, he can apply for a pension and other benefits. The care team agreed that given his current situation the best care would be in skilled care. Cindy secured a suitable facility that met their needs with an ideal location. Cassie Iverson, our paralegal, then worked with the family to gather the necessary paperwork for the husband’s applications to pay for the facility.
During the life care planning process, the wife’s health continued to decline and she now needed care. Prior to her decline, assets were moved into her name. Now that she requires care, she will need to do a ‘spend down’ to qualify for Medical Assistance. As you can see, things can change quickly and not knowing the next move can be costly.
Value of a Life Care Plan
Evidently, the value of a team at your disposal is priceless. Being able to call and ask questions as the situation evolves prevents costly mistakes as you plan for long-term care and needs. Removing the fear of ‘being billed for each call’ allows for better communication.
Our Life Care Plan is more than a series of legal documents. It’s decades of experience in understanding care options, knowing how to best pay for the care and how to process the paperwork; it’s a team dedicated to helping you and your most important person accomplish your goals.
After the initial year of the Life Care Plan, the family can opt to renew services at a discounted rate for the following year. Most families will opt for renewal as they know firsthand the benefits of a team’s support as care needs change, and you don’t have to worry about being billed for each phone call or email.
For some, there may be ‘sticker shock’ at the upfront retainer; however, in the end, the service and end result is worth much more.