What are titanic mistakes in elder law? Well, when I say titanic mistakes, that probably reminds you of the Titanic, right? The RMS Titanic, that man built and said was unsinkable.
So obviously, on its maiden voyage, it hit an iceberg and sank. They didn’t know the iceberg was hanging out there, right? But they should have. They were going through some cold water, up in the northern Atlantic.
What a false sense of confidence they had, and a lot of people suffered and died because of it.
So a titanic mistake in elder law would not be looking for the icebergs that are out there for right in front of you, in your coming life. And I say, if you’re saving for retirement, you need to be planning to save your retirement. It’s a catchy phrase but it’s still very true.
“If you’re saving for retirement, you need to be planning to save your retirement.”
What are some titanic mistakes in elder law? What are some icebergs that are hanging out there in your future?
Time Is Your Enemy
One is time. Time is your enemy.
The longer you wait, the more chances there are that something is going to happen prior to you getting a plan in place
As human beings, our #1 motivator is fear.
So when the captain, the crew and everybody on board hit the iceberg, they were motivated by fear. By fear to do what?
Not by fear to seal the doors, like they should have. But by fear to get the heck in the lifeboats and get off. To save themselves.
They should have been motivated to figure out how to navigate the water in the first place, and be ready in case they hit an iceberg.
So how can you navigate those waters as someone who is either a retiree, getting ready to retire, or going into your senior years?
Avoiding High Legal Fees
Time is your enemy by waiting. Why is that? Well, there are several reasons.
One is cost. I have a friend who plans in Colorado, and he says, you know, people will curse me for what I would charge to preplan and save everything they have.
And then, in the end, they’ll come back and beg and kiss me and hug me and tell me that I’m the best attorney since Perry Mason, when I have to charge double to save half of everything they have.
Because it’s an emergency crisis situation, there’s a lot more planning and heavy lifting. There’s a lot more at stake.
So plan ahead. It’s a lot less costly.
For instance, having a power of attorney in place. That’s a legal document that should be bulletproof.
I’m not a huge fan of short-term powers of attorneys. Ours are generally between 20 and 26 pages long and cover everything from soup to nuts, including Medicaid planning.
So it allows your most trusted person in your family – and then you can line up second and third people on deck, in case that person is unable or unwilling to serve – to handle both your healthcare and business affairs, should you become incapacitated or unable to do so because of a healthcare situation.
That could be dementia, Alzheimer’s, or anything else.
Preparing power of attorney documents are a lot less costly than a guardianship proceeding. That’s a long, drawn out court proceeding that could be conflicted if your family members don’t agree with who’s going to be the guardian, or if there’s not someone suitable
Why not go ahead and appoint someone in a document at a tenth of the cost?
Plan ahead. It saves money and puts your affairs in order, both for healthcare and for general business affairs. Plan ahead, before you’re on life support, heaven forbid. And lingering and the family’s bickering over what to do.
You could, if you wanted to, draft a healthcare directive – or a living will, as it’s called – to determine how you want that situation to be handled and express that intent to the caregivers, the physicians, and your healthcare power of attorney.
So time is your enemy and cost is your enemy.
Don’t Be Motivated By Fear
So don’t be motivated by fear. Try to be motivated by logic and the fact that you know that it’s better to plan ahead. It’s less costly and it’s the smart play. It’s the smart thing to do.
The smart thing to do is to take a different path around the iceberg. The healthcare situation is an iceberg that many seniors face. Long-term care, either in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, is an iceberg.
And I say that knowing that a US Department of Health and Human Services report, in 2005, said that about 70% of all seniors over 65, at that time, were going to need some type of long-term care.
That’s 7 out of 10 people. Better than Vegas odds. And Vegas wasn’t built on winners.
So beat the odds. Don’t let the government or healthcare take it all. Plan ahead.
Beat the “Hang Your Head Spend Down”
The hang your head spend down, that’s another enemy.
What’s the hang your head spend down? Well, the hang your head spend down is what I call you going to social services without knowing any better or knowing what to do.
I have a great relationship with all the social workers there. I value that relationship, and they’re experts at what they do. But they’re not attorneys. They’re not paid to guide you through the complicated legal process of what you can and can’t do with your assets. Or how you, as a healthy spouse of someone who is in a nursing home, can help keep money that you work for your entire life, so that you can enjoy your retirement and your healthy years.
The spend-down right now in North Carolina is just over $119,000 dollars that the healthy spouse can keep. That’s not a lot of money if you’ve got years and years to live.
So how can you keep above and beyond that? Well, we can help you.
How can you save your house from having a Medicaid lien put on it, or being taken away and sold and not kept in your family?
Well, you can see someone like me and we can talk about ways to protect your hard-earned money and property.
Don’t Let Lack of Knowledge Sink You
Another iceberg out there is a lack of knowledge.
If I was in the middle of the Atlantic, waving flashlights and flags, trying to tell you, “Hey, there’s an iceberg, turn this way and I can get you out of this”… wouldn’t you want to give me a call?
Wouldn’t you want to say, “Hey, what’s that guy doing over there? Why’s he yelling and screaming and trying to get our attention?”
I’m trying to get your attention because you’re headed toward the iceberg that’s going to sink your ship and your family’s ship.
So pay attention to the guy operating the lighthouse. Because he’s trying to steer you away from that titanic mistake, which is waiting until it’s too late.
Now, in an emergency situation, we can get in – and we love doing that – and save as many assets as possible. But it gets tricky sometimes, being able to save as much as we could if we were able to plan ahead at the fraction of the cost.
That’s what we’d really like to do. If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about helping seniors maintain their assets and legacies. That’s our slogan here at McIntyre Elder Law.
The purpose of our practice is two-fold. One, our slogan, help seniors protect their assets and legacies. Pass those on to their loved ones. Another one is making sure they stay in control of those assets and have the best healthcare options possible.
Those things are our guiding principles here, and we love to do them.