Apr 18, 2015
By Rick Law, Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney. Senior Advocates at the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in Aurora, IL.
Often, when there is a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, there is a healthy spouse. The concern of dealing with a person with Alzheimer’s is being able to provide long-term health care, even when the healthy spouse pre-deceases the person with the diagnosis.
The circumstances that cause an event such as a healthy spouse predeceasing a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is statistically significant. And when doing planning for a husband and wife when one of the two of them has been diagnosed with a long-term illness, it is extremely important to not make the assumption that the person with the long-term disease trajectory is going to die before the healthy spouse.
Without proper planning, you could have one of two results: the client didn’t do the proper estate planning and now the spouse has inherited all of the assets, or the client bypassed the spouse with the hopes that the children would simply “do the right thing” and take care of the spouse, and they didn’t.
The savior can be the testamentary Special Needs Trust. This tool will not interrupt public benefits, but will provide for the special needs until the beneficiary’s death.
One of the best ways to protect the individual with Alzheimer’s disease is to set up a special-needs trust or, in some states, to transfer monies to what has been referred to as a “pooled trust.” The type of special needs trust or other trust to be selected depends upon the goals and circumstances of both the donor, who is often referred to as the grantor, and the person with the diagnosis or beneficiary.
There is much more to this decision making than merely deciding to put money and property into a trust. There are two synonymous ways to refer to a special-needs trust—simply a “special-needs trust” or a “supplemental needs trust.” In both, the language of the trust must specifically state that the assets in the trust are not available to be used for anything that would be covered by governmental benefits but, instead, are used to complement—to supplement but not supplant—whatever care would be provided for by governmental benefits.
That’s a key concept, and that’s what makes this type of a trust—what is referred to as a “dignity for client trust,” —because what is being provided is more care than what would be available through the overburdened governmental Medicaid system.
If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now.
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!
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Just don’t leave them a mess.
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M. C., Client of Law Hesselbaum and Law Elder Law