I’m Greg McIntyre coming to you with another elder law report. I am an elder law attorney and point of this show is to bring to our senior community information that can help them.
So, what is some of the information we bring to the community?
HS: We try to pick a subject that people need to know about, serious issues like nursing homes or social workers, hospital discharge planners, or the YMCA.
GM: Aging in place is one of my favorite interviews with Charles Tarlton. He talked about no-step communities where there are no steps from front porch to patio. We also have a happy place which is something Hayden talks about.
HS: I’m a wordy person and these are words you will never likely hear. Agastopia, admiration of a particular part of someone’s body. Kooora-fearaphobia is the fear of failure.
GM: I have that, I think everyone has kooora-fearaphobia. If you can get over your fear of failure that is when you will really move fearlessly and quickly.
HS: When I turned fifty, I got to the point where I was no longer concerned about what people think, to a degree.
GM: You’re worried about what someone will think of you.
HS: I could never have done this show with you in my forties but now I enjoy it because I feel we are really helping seniors and educating them on what you do.
GM: So your passion can help you conquer your fears of failure. We have a theme song for Hayden’s happy place on our radio show which is Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t worry, be happy, kind of appropriate.
HS: And I really am a happy person.
GM: This brings us to information we bring to our senior community and their families each week that they can use. As an elder law attorney, it’s odd how I got here. I used to be a door lawyer. A door lawyer is a lawyer who accepts anything that walks in the door. I worked for other attorneys and other firms as a general practitioner and over time you develop your niche. I was born and raised in Cleveland County, I was in the military in the Navy for four years, spent a lot of time on aircraft carriers. I help a ton of veterans with their issues. We talk about little known benefits that aren’t advertised that veterans have available to them. It’s hard to find a time between world war 1 and the present where we haven’t been in some type of conflict. If you were in during those times you may be eligible for what is known as veterans Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit allows a married veteran to draw up to approximately thirty four thousand ($34,000) maximum benefit every year and add that to the income they already have, if they need a little help. It can pay for in-home care, or keep someone from going in to an assisted living facility or nursing home. There are some specific rules to getting this benefit but I am a certified attorney through the US Department of Veterans Affairs and I know those rules. We also know how to align your assets under those rules to comply and get you qualified. That’s one of things we do is to qualify veterans for that benefit when they need it. It is a means tested benefit, so it tests your means, your income and your assets. Those things can be characterized and positioned legally so that you don’t lose control of them and you still obtain the benefit. The aid and attendance is not limited state to state, so we will help someone with aid and attendance who lives in South Carolina for example.
HS: It always surprises me that veterans are not at all aware of that program. It’s a pension benefit, not a disability.
GM: That’s right, it is not disability.
HS: One of the big things we do is educate people, not just veterans but everyone. When I first came to work with Greg, I did not know what I needed to know. I am a senior, so things like how to protect your assets and your home. There are just a lot of things that people do not know.
GM: Don’t get hurt by what you don’t know. That is what’s great about being an elder law attorney is I know property law, I know how to draft caregiver contracts to off-set your income on paper for VA, because the VA allows for care cost, even if it is a familial caregiver to be counted against your income, which is awesome and it should be.
If you think you can’t benefit from this and you hold your hands up because some street lawyer thinks they know what they are talking about you’re wrong. Everybody knows a street lawyer in your neighborhood, someone who will get you in just enough trouble, or steer you away from a benefit that can really help you and your family.
Before you throw your hands up, give me a call if you have any questions and if you are in the Hendersonville and Asheville area on 828-398-0181. We operate from Charlotte to Asheville, our mothership is in Shelby North Carolina. Just like the doctor on little house on the prairie, I really believe in catering to the client by bringing our services to you on your terms. We go to your home and meet with clients and their families, so if you want your son or daughter, husband or wife to be there, I would like to meet with everybody at one time and help you decide what’s best and how to move forward. I try to keep a close relationship with other attorneys who do what I do, and other attorneys in different fields also, so we can help their senior clients too.
HS: What about we mention Medicaid planning because I think that has for me been the biggest shock.
GM: I like for people to plan ahead, it is the cheapest, least costly, less painful way of making sure your affairs are in order. Isn’t it always better, not just planning for long term care, or planning for retirement but for anything to plan ahead. If you plan ahead your day works out better, my day works out better.
On the estate planning side we like to make sure people have their foundations in place: General Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will and Will. Whether you are eighteen or one hundred and eighty, you should have those things in place. They should also be well drafted and have a durability clause that survive incapacity and incompetency and recorded at the local register of deeds, otherwise it won’t be good or valid when you need it.
And there are other documents you can put in place.
One question I get all the time is, at what age should I start to give away my property? The answer is, Never. There is never a good age to start giving away your property. We can empower you with Ladybird Deeds and Life Estate Deeds so you can control your property for the rest of your life and not risk giving it up to the Medicaid system if they come in and pay for long term care.
HS: We will try and share information each week about one of these things because it can be too much information at one time to remember it all.
Sometimes people don’t know until it is too late and they lose their home and assets.
GM: You mentioned the Medicaid Crisis Planning. I am fortunate to be in a national group of elder law attorneys which gives me a lot of resources. It’s not just me you hear when I speak, I have a thousand attorneys behind me that I can ask questions of.
HS: And you can refer people who live in other states to elder law attorneys practicing in those states.
GM: Yes. So, this gives me very deep resources to answer questions. You want to simply make sure you are talking to someone who knows what they are talking about. Someone who is serious and devoted to what they do because this is serious.
HS: If you are faced with a long-term care situation, you need to call Greg now because there are things you don’t know and you are limited to how much time you have before Medicaid will pay, or how long your supplement will pay before you have to start paying out of your own pocket.
GM: We see the crying spouse on a regular basis because they have spent down a couple of hundred thousand dollars over a few years and they both saved for retirement their entire lives and it’s been spent down on just one of them for healthcare and the healthy spouse may have a good twenty or thirty years to live. What are they supposed to do? We can help in that situation to get in and evaluate to see if an asset protection is in order to protect the spouse, or a VA benefit might be able to cover this private pay.
HS: Remember, we are living longer and not necessarily healthy longer.
GM: If you are in that situation where you are spending down your money over time, then I can help stop the bleeding of assets and activate a healthcare benefit to come in and pay for the spouse that needs care. We call that Medicaid crisis planning and we do that on a regular basis.
Sometimes you find people with a ‘hang your head spend down’. They basically give away everything they have ever owned to activate a healthcare benefit. That’s not right. I have experience with that in my family and I write about that in my book ‘Saving the Farm’. I feel very passionate about helping seniors protect their assets and legacies. That’s what we do and that’s all we do.
If you need to contact us in the Hendersonville/Greenville/Spartanburg area our number is 828-398-0181. We are located in Shelby at 123 West Marion Street. We have meetings by appointments only and they can be in-home or at our Biltmore Park meeting space.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150