Common Myths about Medicaid, Estate Planning, Powers of Attorney, and Wills

I have Medicare so I don't need to worry about long term care. Medicare is like an insurance policy and will pay for short term hospital stays and certain rehabilitation treatments. Medicare will not pay for an assisted living facility or nursing home after 90 days. If someone needs long term assisted living or nursing home care, they cannot rely on Medicare to pay for it.

I have to be completely broke to qualify for government benefits such as Medicaid. With careful planning, the appropriate legal documents and a trustworthy relative or friend, you can take advantage of Medicaid benefits if you need them, even if you have some assets. The process is complex and it is risky to attempt without experienced legal assistance. With pre-planning and careful action, you may be able to preserve some assets to spend on enriching the quality of your life in assisted living and nursing home care.

I don't have that much and my kids get a long great - I don't need a Will. In my family, my grandmother had a beautiful, old candy dish. The dish came out for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Traditions arose around the candy dish, including initiating all newcomers to say at some point during dinner, “My, what a beautiful dish.” At that point, family members would cheer and laugh, usually to the great confusion of the newcomer. When my grandmother passed away at the age of 96, nobody talked about her money or her other assets - everyone wanted to know who was going to get the candy dish. Is there something like this candy dish that could cause hard feelings or create a stir at the time you pass when emotions are running high? Is there someone you want to have it? Even if your children get along and your assets are modest, you can use a Will to help avoid any questions or arguments.

I'm healthy and I can take care of myself - I don't need any Powers of Attorney. I've had many clients who come into my office after their mother has had a stroke or their father has dementia asking for help in getting authorized to handle their parents' or spouse's affairs. When these clients come in, their parent often lacks the legal capacity to sign legal documents. If their parents have planned ahead with Powers of Attorney for finances and health care, the process is very easy and most of the time, they don't need the assistance of a lawyer. If not, the only option may be to obtain guardianship over the incapacitated parent. Guardianship is a legal process and requires much more time and money to achieve than executing a Power of Attorney before you need it.