Elder Law

Having an Elder Care Plan Will Create Peace of Mind for Your Family

We always plan and pray for a bright future for our family. But sometimes the unexpected happens, and your loved one needs an additional level of care. When the unexpected happens, you need to know that your loved one will get the care they need, and that both you and your family’s future is secure.

You might have planned for years of relaxation and enjoyment as a retired couple. But now your spouse needs significant care. How will you pay for it? Will your spouse’s care create financial hardship for you?

Perhaps your parent needs to move into a nursing home, and you don’t know how to choose the right facility. How do you select the facility that will provide Mom or Dad with the care they need, without jeopardizing your own financial future?

How We Can Help

At Trinity Law, we provide the reassurance you are looking for. Our team of lawyers are experienced in helping families find the care their loved one needs, without depleting the nest egg.

Our knowledge of elder law – the guidelines, rules, and regulations that govern the care of the elderly – allows us to provide hope and security for you, your loved one, and your family. You can rely on our attorneys to answer any questions you might have, dispel any bad information or advice you may have heard, and give you solid next steps to secure your family’s future.

Common Questions About Elder Law

How Can I Afford Long-Term Care?

The cost of long-term care is skyrocketing.

In 2015, the average cost for care in a nursing home in Pennsylvania is $128,000 per year. If your loved one requires that level of care, you might be wondering how you will ever afford that. Or you might be worried that a lengthy stay in a facility will wipe out your entire savings. Fortunately, third-party assistance is available for you and your loved one.

Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania, provides healthcare assistance to those in need. This assistance includes coverage for individuals who need care from a nursing home or long term care facility. Applying for Medical Assistance involves a lengthy process and complicated financial qualifications.

Our attorneys assist families in applying for and securing Medicaid assistance for your spouse or loved one. We make sure you qualify for the program, help you sort out your financial records, and advise you on ways you can legally structure your assets so they remain for you or your family.

How Can I Protect My Assets?

For many couples, paying for necessary long-term care can be a frustrating experience. You don’t want to see your nest egg consumed by the nursing home, so you turn to Medicaid to find financial assistance. But to qualify for Medicaid, you and your spouse need to meet their strict financial eligibility requirements.

To qualify for Medicaid, many couples try several ways to hide or protect their assets. They give large financial gifts to their children, move assets into a spouse’s name, and hide money in different accounts. Unfortunately, these actions are not allowed by Medicaid; they will negatively impact your Medicaid application, while also leaving you with a less-dependable financial future.

As part of the Medical Assistance application, the government will take a detailed look at a couple’s finances for the past 60 months. Called the “look back period,” Medicaid looks for any actions to hide or transfer assets that are against their regulations. If they find any of these prohibited asset movements, like giving money or property to your children, you might be penalized or disqualified from Medicaid.

There are legal ways you can structure your assets so you can qualify for Medicaid without fear of penalty. This includes investments in assets exempted by Medicaid (like a car or primary residence) or converting assets into an annuity that generates a dependable stream of income. Our attorneys will educate you on what is legally acceptable and how you can best set up your assets to ensure your long-term financial security. We will also make sure to discuss any implications these actions have on your tax responsibilities.

What Is a Family Caregiver Agreement and Why Is It Important?

One important and often overlooked tool in Medicaid planning is a Family Caregiver Agreement. If a parent or spouse requires care, assistance, or housing, but not at the level of a long-term care facility, a family member can serve – and receive compensation – as caregiver. With a Family Caregiver Agreement, you can adequately compensate your loved one for providing the services a care facility would provide. This agreement can cover housing, meals, transportation, medical care, and even payment for the caregiver.

For many families, this agreement is a formal acknowledgement of what is already happening: you are providing care for your loved one. Plus, it is a legal way for you to keep money in the family, while also helping your loved one qualify for Medicaid assistance.

At Trinity Law, our lawyers can assist you and your family in drafting a Family Caregiver Agreement that meets the needs and wishes of all parties. We find that these agreements provide families with assurances that care is planned for and will be provided to the loved one. The agreement also helps alleviate some conflicts between family members, as a caregiver is receiving compensation for the care they are providing.

How Do I Know I’m Choosing the Right Care Facility?

If your spouse or loved one needs long-term or nursing home care, it is important to find the right facility to meet these needs. You want to make sure your loved one will receive proper, personalized care in a clean, safe, and friendly setting. And you want a nursing home contract that guarantees this care without breaking the bank.

In the midst of evaluating and deciding on a care facility, it can be helpful to know what questions to ask. We’ve created a checklist that will help you learn more about each facility you visit. The checklist also includes questions you will want to ask about any care agreement contract – before you sign.

Download our free PDF checklist:
Evaluating an Elder Care Facility

When you are looking for the right care facility for your loved one, turn to Trinity Law to provide you with support and counsel as you make this decision. Our attorneys will look over any nursing home or long-term care contract, ensuring the facility and treatments meet a high standard. We can also help you ask the right questions of a potential nursing home, so you can have the piece of mind your loved one is getting the care they deserve.

What If My Loved One Is Incapacitated?

When a person loses the capacity to comprehend legal documents or make educated decisions, they are incapacitated in the eyes of the law. In the case of senior citizens, this diminished mental state is commonly due to an incapacitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or a stroke. When a loved one is incapacitated, it is important make sure someone else is looking after their wellbeing, and is making decisions about their living situation, finances, and health care options in their best interest.

There are several ways to ensure your spouse or loved one receives the care they need, even in a diminished mental state. Some options must be established while the person has the capacity to make legal decisions; other options are available only after a debilitating injury or illness.

Legal options for care include:

Guardianship

A guardian is a court-appointed person who has the legal authority to care for a person who cannot care for or make decisions for themselves. Any competent person can be appointed guardian for an incapacitated person, and the role is typically held by a spouse, family member, close friend, or attorney. It is their duty to make sure their charge receives the care and treatment they deserve.

Sometimes guardians are appointed who fail to provide or maintain the necessary level of care. In these situations, we help families understand their legal rights in either forcing the guardian to fulfill their responsibilities or petitioning for a new guardian to be appointed.

There are also cases when families can hold unrealistic expectations and place unreasonable external pressure on a guardian. This can be a trying, exhausting situation for everyone involved, as emotions are running high and some may not have the best of intentions. During this emotionally-charged time, we provide counsel and representation for a guardian, helping and protecting them from attacks as they continue to perform their duty.

attorney matthew menges

Matthew D. Menges, Esq.

My name is Matthew Menges, and I’ve helped couples throughout York and Lancaster counties ensure long-term care and financial security for them and their families.

When caring for your spouse or loved one, it’s vital you take the right steps to make sure you get the necessary treatment without depleting your savings. This might be your first time navigating the tricky waters of elder law, Medicaid, and nursing home care; I work with families every day, helping them see their future with clarity. Contact me and I can help you take the necessary steps for your loved one’s care and your financial security.

Tell Us About Your Case

Call our office at 717-843-8046 and we’ll schedule our introductory consultation within 2 business days.