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Atlanta Georgia Elder Care And Special Needs Planning Blog

Helping you navigate the special needs planning process

Any parent will attest that they want what is best for their child. This can look vastly different from family to family and from child to child. However, understanding what is best for a child means considering the needs of the child currently and in the future. For children with special needs, it can feel overwhelming to consider the future care of the child when it is currently a challenge to meet his or her changing needs. Nevertheless, it is still possible to provide for these future needs while still providing for other loved ones in the event of your death.

Financial planning can be challenging when one is unsure about what the future will entail for his or her children. However, the estate planning process can help a parent ensure that a special needs child will receive an inheritance that will give him or her peace of mind. The attorneys at The Pollan Law Firm understand the complexities that special needs planning can bring to the table. Therefore, we are dedicated to helping clients in the Atlanta area navigate these issues.

Nursing home red flags: Beware of these when making a choice

When the time comes to help one or both of your parents move into a nursing home, it's safe to say that you'll have many questions and concerns. While your mind may never be 100% at ease, it's critical to take steps to ensure that they're moving into the perfect facility for them.

Here are some red flags to watch for when visiting and choosing a nursing home:

  • Chaos: Are residents wandering around with no idea of what they are doing? Are nurses spending more time on their phone than doing their job? The last thing you want to see at a nursing home is chaos, as it increases the risk of something going wrong.
  • No one to talk to: When your loved one has a question or concern, they must be able to find someone who can address it. The same holds true if you personally need to get in touch with someone on the nursing staff or a member of the administrative team. There should always be someone to talk to, regardless of what you need.
  • Bad odors: Medical facilities are known for having bad odors, which can make it difficult to live a comfortable life. The best nursing home facilities are the ones that are able to keep these odors to a minimum.
  • Issues with cleanliness: This covers a variety of areas, such as debris on the floor, dirty bathrooms and rooms that are unkempt.
  • Ever changing prices: Yes, nursing home costs can and will change over time, but this isn't something you should expect to deal with every week. Ask about pricing up front, including how long it's good for and the circumstances that are likely to change the numbers.

Introduction to the Medicaid Look-Back

As previous posts on our blog have explained, Georgia residents can qualify for Medicaid, if they meet certain asset and income requirements. The reason is that Medicaid is designed to help those who have a financial need for assistance with their health care costs.

Nevertheless, many people in Atlanta will discover that, despite working and saving all their lives, they are not going to be able both to pay for the cost of a nursing home or other assisted living arrangement and keep their savings. As a result, they may engage in some Medicaid planning, which is a legal process through, which people divest what wealth they have while they are still healthy and able to secure adequate health coverage. Planning of this sort can, among other things, allow Georgia residents to give their wealth to loved ones without having to worry about this money having to be applied to the cost of long-term care.

Income and Medicaid eligibility

Most Georgia residents rely on an income in order to pay their bills and to provide for their families. Oftentimes, their incomes come from their wages, commissions, tips and other pay from the work that they perform. However, individuals may have other sources of income that can affect his or her eligibility for Medicaid.

Medicaid determinations are often based on individuals' incomes, and for Medicaid-based computational purposes, "income" refers to modified adjusted gross income. Modified adjusted gross income is a person's adjusted gross income plus any tax-exempt interest, Social Security income, untaxed foreign wages and other possible sources of income. Medicaid will generally look at the types of income that a person may have access to for self-sustenance. If that level of income is too high, they may not be eligible for Medicaid.

How do proposed Medicaid changes affect me?

Georgia residents may be following the news around the governor's proposal to marginally expand Medicaid through a delayed waiver application process. The announcement was made recently-adults earning up to $12,000 a year could sign up for health care coverage. This would expand the program to around 50,000 people, provided they continue to work, complete job training and attend school.

Ever since the announcement was made, comments flooded the state's online system. They came from healthcare professionals, business interests and advocacy groups. While many argued that Medicaid expansion should be completed in full without a work requirement, others commented that it would be a good idea. While the comments can be used to influence public opinion, they also become a part of the legal record. Consumers express their needs in the process and they have proven to become stumbling blocks in other states. Additionally, it is a way for certain groups to express an impending legal challenge if the proposal is not withdrawn.

Timely special needs planning gives parents ease of mind

Georgia residents want what is best for their parents and loved ones as they age, and while keeping them in the house may be the best way to do that for some people, this is not an option everyone can avail. Regardless of where they reside, caring for an adult or even a child who is disabled over a long period of time can cause emotional and financial stress that many may not anticipate.

For this reason, it is important to engage in Medicaid, special needs or nursing home planning early on. The sooner one starts thinking about cost of taking care of disabled loved ones, the more likely it is that they are able to create a comprehensive plan that caters to all their needs, should the time come that they are no longer able to provide the care themselves.

How to talk to an elderly parent about moving into a nursing home

There may come a time when you realize that an elderly parent is best off living in a nursing home. Maybe you come to this conclusion because they've had a few accidents around home. Or maybe their doctor has expressed concerns about them living alone.

There's a lot to consider when moving an elderly parent into a nursing home, but it all starts with a conversation. During this initial conversation, it's important to discuss the finer details of nursing home care, with the goal of making your parent as comfortable as possible with the process.

A closer look at Medicaid planning

As Georgians age, they begin to have concerns about healthcare and where they will live. Several federal and state programs exist to provide answers to these questions. People who want to obtain Medicaid benefits must show that their income is below the state and federal limits, along with other requirements.

As most people know, Medicaid refers to the jointly funded state and federal medical assistance programs for low income people of all ages. Perhaps the most important feature of Medicaid in Georgia is the funding of health care and living facilities for elderly residents. Medicaid provides financial assistance for three basic types of programs:

  • Institutional or nursing home Medicaid
  • Medicaid waivers that provide home and community based services
  • Regular Medicaid that provides services for those who are blind or disabled

Housing options for special needs adults

Many words have been written about meeting the challenges of caring for children with special needs. Somehow, the challenges of caring for adults with special needs has received far less attention.

In this post, we will focus on a single essential need for Georgia adults with special needs: adequate housing.

Moving a special needs trust from one state to another

Special needs trusts have become common estate planning tools for special needs children and adults. These trusts are so common that many parents of special needs children believe they can move from one state to another without jeopardizing any of the benefits that the trust provides. While this assumption may be true in the majority of circumstances, the failure to closely examine the requirements and regulations for special needs trusts in the destination state may deprive a child of essential federal and state aid.

One issue that may arise is that the amount of Supplemental Security Income is lower in one state than in another. Each state sets the amount of these benefits, and they may be lower or higher in the new state.

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