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Atlanta Georgia Elder Care And Special Needs Planning Blog

What is a qualified income trust?

Many Georgia residents require medical care that they cannot fully pay for. Medicaid was created to help low income people obtain proper medical care, but if a person's income is above the Medicaid limit, they are not eligible for the federal benefits. Georgia has created a legal device called a Qualified Income Trust that helps these individuals become eligible for Nursing Facility, Hospice and Home and Community Based Services and Medicaid.

Georgia establishes an income limit for Medicaid eligibility. Anyone whose income exceeds the income limit is not eligible for Medicaid. A QIT can make a person eligible for Medicaid by serving as a repository for income that would otherwise disqualify the recipient as eligible for Medicaid. In its simplest terms, a QIT serves as a depository for all income in excess of the Medicaid cap. The trust is irrevocable, that is, once established, it cannot be abolished. A QIT is executing a proper trust agreement and opening a QIT account at a bank. The trust instrument contains a worksheet on which the maker of the trust lists income. All income that exceeds the state income limit is deposited in the trust.

Guardianships and conservatorships in Georgia

Many people in Georgia are unable to care for themselves. Some have been disabled since their youth, others have been disabled by an accident or disease and still others are incapacitated by infirmities of old age, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Despite a person's incapacity, that person may have legal or financial obligations. Managing these relationships can place a heavy burden on family members or friends, and Georgia has created two types of relationships that allow another person to care for or make decisions for a person who is unable to do so: guardianships and conservatorships.

A guardianship is a legal appointment that allows one person to care for the physical well-being of another person who cannot provide such care. A guardian can be appointed for a minor child or an adult. Once appointed, the guardian must sign an oath swearing to comply with all requirements of Georgia law that apply to guardianships. The probate court may require a guardian to post a surety bond.

Do you need a third party special needs trust?

Planning for the future is something we have been taught to do since we were children. Plan for college. Plan for a career. Plan for your family. Plan for retirement. The plan we concentrate least on is the one for after retirement: The future that requires long-term care possibly in a nursing facility.

We tend to think about our futures only up to the point just before we get too old or too sick to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, this often leaves our loved ones in a position where they have to make some hard decisions, especially in a situation where a parent is suffering from a mentally debilitating disease like Alzheimer's.

Understanding special needs trusts

Trusts are common legal arrangements that, in their simplest forms, allow money or property to be set aside for the welfare of a person. While trusts are most commonly associated with wealthy people transferring assets to their children, trusts can serve a variety of purposes that have little or nothing to do with transferring inherited wealth. One of the most useful trusts for people living in Georgia is the "special needs trust."

Special needs trusts are used to manage assets for people with various kinds of disabilities, including developmental disabilities, disabilities caused by a serious accident or elderly persons with disabilities caused by aging. A special needs trust can be set up to hold money awarded in a personal injury lawsuit or money set aside by parents for a disabled child. A trust has three parties: the settlor who establishes the trust, the beneficiary who will receive payments from the trust and the trustee, who will manage the trust assets. The trustee also disburses trust assets in accordance with the requirements of the trust document. Most special needs trusts use professional trustees, such as the trust department of a bank.

Obtaining services for special needs children under IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal statute that was passed in 1975 with the goal of ensuring that certain categories of impaired children were given necessary assistance with learning disabilities. While the goal of the act is laudable, the procedures that are necessary to qualify a child for benefits can be complex.

The first step is to determine that a child in fact has a learning disability to which IDEA applies. The categories of disability are autism, deaf-blindness, dearness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment other health impairment, including ADHD, specific learning disability, including dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, and other learning issues, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment, including blindness. In addition to suffering from one or more of these disabilities, the child must also need special education in order to make satisfactory progress in school.

Living wills in Georgia

Elderly Georgia residents hear many confusing terms about planning for a disabling or terminal illness and the disposition of their property on death. One of the most confusing questions is the difference between a living will and a last will and testament. Understanding this distinction can be the difference between removing a significant source of stress from a person's later years and facing increasingly difficult questions about disposing of a person's assets in a manner that precludes divisive arguments between descendants about the division of an elder relative's assets.

Perhaps the more familiar of the two terms is "last will and testament." A last will and testament is essentially a directive to the maker's executor or administrator about how to distribute the maker's property among descendants. Without a valid will, a person's property is distributed according to the state's rules of intestate succession. These rules may or may not match the decedent's wishes. A written will can remove all doubt and can eliminate disputes among descendants about how the decedent's property should be distributed.

What can you expect from long-term care and nursing home costs?

Previous posts here have stressed the importance of solid planning when it comes to nursing home care. Those plans typically include efforts to enroll in Medicaid coverage. However, not everyone will be eligible to enroll in Medicaid, but many will still encounter the need for some type of long-term or nursing home care in life, usually in elder years. So, what can our readers in Georgia expect when it comes to nursing home and long-term care costs?

Well, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics, most people can expect to face significant costs for these services. For example, the statistics show that the average cost on a monthly basis for a semi-private room in a nursing home is almost $6,900 a month. That's about $225 per day. If someone has a private room, those costs will rise to nearly $7,700 per month, or about $253 per day.

Unique problems encountered in special needs planning

Georgia residents approach special needs planning from the right place: they want to make sure that loved ones are taken care of. For many people, that loved one is a child, or perhaps a sibling. Whatever the case, even an approach to special needs planning that attempts to account for all types of contingencies might encounter unique problems.

For example, one of the biggest issues that usually needs to be addressed in special needs planning is Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid, as has been mentioned in previous posts here, is a very important federal program for millions of Americans. If a person with special needs isn't able to enroll in Medicaid coverage due to eligibility concerns, financial complications can be life-altering. Any Medicaid eligibility issues need to be addressed in the early phases of special needs planning.

Could changes be coming to Medicaid coverage in Georgia?

Georgia, like many other places in the country right now, is receiving a somewhat more intense review by the news media than what is typical. The reason? Election season. And, like hundreds of other states, cities and local governments across the country, things may be changing in Georgia depending on how the citizens of the state vote in November. Could changes be coming to Medicaid as a result?

It is possible. In the governor's race, one recent media report noted that the two candidates who are likely to receive the most votes in the November election have different views when it comes to Medicaid in Georgia. One candidate is in favor of expanding the scope of coverage for Medicaid, while the other is opposed to such a move. As it stands right now, Georgia is one of only eight states in America that has not moved to expand Medicaid coverage, as was detailed in the recent report.

The many ways for your parent to pay for nursing home care

There may come a point in your life when you need to help one or both your parents find a nursing home. This is never easy to do, but you realize it's the right decision.

As you begin your search, it's natural for money to be on your mind. You're likely to have questions about the best way for your parent to pay for nursing home care. By thinking about this up front, it's easier to settle on a payment strategy that works for all parties involved.


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