Elder law planning is often something people don’t consider until there is a crisis. Their mother falls down the stairs, and they suddenly recognize that she may need to move into a nursing home. Older adults may begin planning as quickly as possible after a diagnosis of a terminal condition or a doctor deciding that they need to undergo surgery.
Those facing a financial crisis or major challenges with a loved one’s safety may need immediate help addressing those issues. The pursuit of a guardianship when someone’s cognitive capacity suddenly declines is another example of a crisis that would force families to address elder law matters.
Planning in a crisis is less than optimal for several reasons. People often have difficulty making the best decisions when also dealing with high levels of stress. They will also have fewer options available because they need to achieve a certain outcome as quickly as possible. Planning before a crisis arises is usually the best approach.
Advance planning eliminates many risks
Those who proactively address elder law issues before a crisis often obtain the best outcome when a crisis does arise. Incapacity planning is a perfect example. Someone’s family members may not need to pursue an involuntary guardianship if an older adult already has durable powers of attorney on record. Those documents can designate someone they trust to assist with medical or financial matters when they lose the legal authority to address those issues on their own behalf.
Those who may need Medicaid as they age could also benefit from advance planning. Asset protection planning or Medicaid planning completed at least 60 months before someone needs benefits would all but eliminate the likelihood of the state imposing a penalty. Those actions can also help preserve more of someone’s resources for their loved ones after they die by reducing the likelihood of estate recovery efforts.
Those with chronic illnesses may also benefit from non-crisis planning before a serious issue arises that leaves them unable to manage their own health or assets. Anyone who might be at risk of living in a nursing home as they age would also potentially benefit from elder law planning while preparing for retirement.
Addressing elder law issues before family members experience a significant crisis can provide everyone with better protection and more peace of mind if a crisis ever does occur.