Elder Law FAQs

What Are My Options for Long-term Care?

Aside from the traditional nursing home facility that comes to mind, long-term care can be had through a personal home care aid or through an assisted-living facility which provides medical care in a relatively home-like environment.

What Is the Cost of Long-term Care?

Long-term care in NYC can be quite expensive. Assisted living facilities or nursing homes can run up a monthly bill of $3,000-$5,000 and $6,000-$10,000 respectively. Home health aides can cost $20 or more per hour.

Can I Stay In My Home As I Get Older?

Staying in your home is definitely an option as you get older and is almost always less expensive than living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. It can be a good option if you have family members or friends that can come to your needs when necessary and even get paid for it under Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP).

Will Medicaid Cover My Long-term Care?

Medicaid is a Federal and state program that covers the cost of a nursing home stay or a personal home health aide for qualifying individuals. When applying for Medicaid, the local Department of Social Services considers the need of the applicant for the care they’re seeking, their annual income, and the value of their assets. While many believe they may not qualify for Medicaid, with proper Medicaid planning, many clients have been able to qualify and enjoy their later days with Medicaid covering the cost of long-term care.

What is Medicaid Planning?

Medicaid planning is working within the bounds of the law to meet Medicaid’s qualification requirements while protecting the client’s assets.

What Is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a joint Federal and State healthcare program that provides medical and nursing home care as well as home care aides for low income individuals.

Are Some Assets Exempt in Determining My Eligibility for Medicaid?

Yes. Property including a home, car, clothing, personal belongings and a certain amount of life insurance are typically exempt and will not impact your eligibility.

What Is Medicaid Estate Recovery?

After a Medicaid recipient passes away, state Medicaid authorities can make a claim against the decedent’s estate to recover the funds paid by Medicaid for their medical or nursing home care.

Is Medicaid Planning Moral?

Of course. Congress has deliberately passed legislation within Medicaid law to allow many members of the middle class to qualify for Medicaid who otherwise would not have been eligible. At the end of the day, people engage in tax planning to minimize their tax liability, planning to become eligible for Medicaid to reduce the often inflated costs of nursing homes is no different.

If I Become Incapacitated and Lose My Ability to make Rational, Informed Decisions, How Can I Ensure that my Health Care Wishes are Being Followed?

One option is to include a healthcare proxy in your estate plan, which allows you to appoint a trusted individual to make decisions for you regarding your healthcare.

What Is A Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a trusted individual to act on your behalf if you are unable to make and communicate decisions for yourself. Unlike a healthcare proxy, this individual will be able to handle all of your financial matters including banking, government benefits, and the gifting of assets.

Do I Lose Any Rights If I Make A Power of Attorney?

No. A power of attorney simply allows you to appoint an individual whom you trust to handle your decision-making on your behalf. While powers of attorney usually cover a range of areas that will require decision making, the “power” that a power of attorney has is solely up to the terms you specify when drafting the document.

What If I Do Not Execute Either of These Documents?

Without having both of these documents in your estate plan, your loved ones may need to petition the court to become your guardian, often performed through an Article 81 Guardianship Proceeding. This is a potentially long and tedious process that you’d like to avoid.

Is A Conservatorship or Guardianship Always Necessary? Are There Alternatives?

If a person has drafted and signed a financial or healthcare power of attorney and has appointed a trusted and willing individual to fill these roles, a conservatorship or guardianship may not be necessary.

What is the Difference Between A Conservatorship and A Guardianship?

While some states may use the term interchangeably, in others, a conservatorship is created to deal with the elderly person’s finances, while a guardianship is meant to protect their physical and mental well-being.

Can Conservatorships or Guardianships Have Other Purposes?

Conservatorship and guardianship appointments can have different purposes than the ones laid out above as long as they are clearly specified in the respective documents. A conservatorship can be created, for example, to only deal with a sale of a property or a transfer of assets, and a guardianship’s sole purpose, if they are still able to make certain decisions, can be to help them make only the decisions that they cannot make themselves.

Can a Conservatorship or Guardianship Be Created On An Emergency Basis?

This is actually a frequent occurrence when a disabled person may be in danger and immediate court intervention is needed to prevent harm.

Will Medicaid take my house if I get into a nursing home or other long term care facility?

The answer depends on your particular situation. If you live with your spouse and only one of you gets into the nursing home without proper elder care planning in place, the house will remain in the other spouse’s possession during his life. However, the Medicaid can put a lien on the house if the proper Medicaid planning is missing. Thus, losing your home to pay back to Medicaid is a real possibility. 

What is Elderly Guardianship?

Elderly guardianship, also known as elderly conservatorship, is a legal relationship created when a court appoints an individual to take care of an elderly person who is no longer able to take care of themselves. This includes the elderly person not being able to do things like remembering to take medication, maintain necessary hygiene, or managing finances. For these reasons, it could be crucial for an elderly person to have a court appointed guardian.

Who is considered an Elder by Law in the State of NY?

In the State of New York, there is no legal benchmark for someone to be considered an elderly person, but elder law usually involves people over the age of 60 years old.

What are the 3 Primary Focuses of Elder Law?

The three primary focuses of elder law include estate planning; Medicaid, disability, and Long-Term Care; and Guardianship.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can take place in many different types of forms like, physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or financial forms. Elder abuse could be perpetuated by strangers, but it could also be done by friends and or family members of the elderly person. Elder abuse could range from harmful actions, such as assault to neglect of the elderly person’s needs, which could result in problems such as malnutrition, dehydration, and inadequate personal hygiene.

How Long Does It Take to Appoint A Conservatorship or Guardianship?

As with all legal proceedings, their duration is largely dependent on the complexity of the matter at hand. Simple proceedings usually take at least a month and more complex proceedings can take six months or more.

When Should I See An Elder Law Attorney?

If you anticipate needing Medicaid benefits in the near future or wish to protect yourself or a loved one in the case of incapacitation, it’s a good idea to consult with an Elder Law attorney to figure out the necessary steps to take.