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How Can an Ohio Elder Law Attorney Help Me If I’ve Just Been Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

Get The Legal Help You Need

When you receive the devastating news that you have Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it’s vital to act quickly and plan for the future while you are still able. Many people aren’t aware of what long-term care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia entails, and it can catch them and their loved ones off guard. The financial repercussions of an Alzheimer’s or Dementia diagnosis can be hefty and life-changing.

You can avoid adding to the stress induced by circumstances that are already challenging enough. An Ohio elder law attorney can work with you and your family members to plan for the future.

Plan For Incapacity with an Ohio Elder Law Attorney

Your elder law attorney can help you prepare for when you’re unable to make financial, legal, and medical decisions for yourself. The plan involves designating a trusted individual to control your finances and health care and composing a will or trust-based plan to ensure your wishes upon incapacity or death and ensure that your care options are known, and your choices are planned out.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney give a trusted person, typically a spouse or family member, the legal right to make decisions on your behalf, either right now or when you no longer have the capacity or ability to decide for yourself.

There are two common types of powers of attorney:

    • Power of attorney for finances. This grants the person with power of attorney (the agent) the ability to step into your shoes and make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. You do not give up any of your rights or decision-making authority. This simply allows for the person or people that you’ve designated to also make the same decisions that you can. A general durable power of attorney allows your agent to keep making decisions for you even when you’ve lost the ability to make them yourself. This often allows you and your family to avoid dealing with the court system or guardianship process.
    • Power of attorney for health care. Everyone over 18 should have a health care power of attorney because we could all experience a time when we are temporarily unconscious or confused and are unable to make or communicate our choices. When you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia or have received a diagnosis, it becomes more urgent to name a decision-maker for future healthcare choices. You should discuss your healthcare options and communicate your choices to your agent so that they can make corresponding decisions for you when you are unable to do so. These choices can include your healthcare provider, treatment options, living or care environment, and other care arrangements, including decisions around end-of-life choices. If you do not want to undergo intensive end-of-life treatments such as life support, you should communicate this information to your health care power of attorney and complete a Living Will, which will memorialize your preferences and take that emotional burden off of your loved ones.

As long as you can make choices for yourself, you can still do so. Naming a power of attorney, though, is essential to avoiding guardianship and keeping decision-making with the person of your choosing. It’s essential to choose someone you trust and who will have your best interest at heart. It’s also highly recommended that you choose backup decision-makers in the event your primary agent is not available.

Living Will

Unlike a standard will, a living will is valid when you’re still living. You can use this document to express the kind of medical treatment you wish to receive when you are incapacitated or near the end of your life. For example, you can record your wish not to be on artificial life support.

A living will does not come into play until a physician determines that you cannot communicate your own desires regarding medical care.

If you’re unsure where to start with these legal documents, don’t worry. A long-term care planning attorney can help you create these advance directives so that you and your family can focus on what’s important: spending time with the people you love.

Standard Will

A Will does not come into play until you have passed away. Therefore, your executor has no power or authority during your lifetime.

In your will, you’ll determine how to distribute your estate. You’ll choose an executor to manage the estate and the beneficiaries who will inherit your assets. You can plan care arrangements for dependents, funeral and burial arrangements, and other post-death arrangements that you want to make. A will ensures that someone will uphold your wishes according to the instructions that you provide.

However, what most people do not understand about a will, is that the will is the instruction to the probate court. So, anything that does go through your will does indeed go through probate.

While most people have heard that they want to avoid probate, most people do not understand why this is the case. Generally, probate is a long and fairly costly process. The court is involved as well as an attorney in most cases due to the complexity of the probate process. In Ohio, probate usually lasts from 8 to 12 months or more, and according to AARP, the cost is usually between 5-8% of the value of the assets. For example, if someone had an estate valued at $300,000, that cost could range from $15,000 to $24,000, even for a simple, straightforward estate.

Since most people would prefer that the majority of their funds go to their beneficiaries and not to fees to others, many take steps to ensure that their assets do not go through their wills and thus probate.

Planning for the Costs of Long-term Care in Ohio

Don’t wait to discover your options for long-term care. Too many elderly Americans find out that their retirement plans aren’t sufficient to cover the costs of long-term care, whether that be a nursing home, assisted living, or even care providers in their own homes. Long-term care costs are escalating faster than inflation. With the help of an experienced long-term care planning lawyer, you can plan for how to pay for your care and protect your assets and those of your loved ones.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

You might think that Medicare will cover your long-term medical needs (nurses and trained care providers that help with bathing, dressing, eating, etc.), but it only pays for acute care, or in other words, short-term treatments for injury or illness. Medicaid is a separate program that can help cover long-term care costs, but there are strict requirements for eligibility. An Elder Care attorney can help put a plan in place to pay for the care in your chosen care environment and do so in a way that does not deplete all of your assets, as is far too often the case.

Elder law attorneys can help you with strategic planning to ensure you receive the care and support you need for any Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. And they’ll assist you and your family in implementing this plan, including evaluating the options to supplement the cost of care and accessing available programs on your behalf.

Long-term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is another option to pay for care, but you will not be eligible for insurance if you already have a debilitating diagnosis or condition. Still, if you are in good health, you can evaluate purchasing coverage and use it along with other programs to help with future costs if you do receive a diagnosis.

How Do I Find an Ohio Elder Law Attorney Near Me?

Jarvis Law Office provides free consultations, in-person workshops, and monthly webinars for Ohio seniors and their loved ones. If you or a family member has Alzheimer’s or dementia, our skilled elder law attorneys can help you start planning to protect what’s most important to you. Join us as we discuss topics of interest to you.

We have three locations in Lancaster, Dublin, and St. Clairsville. Contact Jarvis Law Office today at (740) 653-3450 or fill out our online form to see if you qualify for a free consultation.

Copyright © 2022. Jarvis Law Office, P.C. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Jarvis Law Office, P.C.
904 N. Columbus Street
Lancaster, OH 43130
(740) 653-3450