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My 82-year-old mom is in assisted living with moderate dementia. I am POA. Her financial planner suggested I get an elder lawyer after I asked her to explain to me how to access my mother's dwindling investments. I estimate that mom can afford about a year and a half of assisted living before she runs out of money completely. She is moderately well and it seems possible she may live many more years. I don't want to spend money unnecessarily on a lawyer if I can manage things myself. I have an accountant who can tell me about the tax issues. My plan after assisted living depends on mom's wellness. Not sure if she will be ready for a nursing home or if she will have to come live with me. My sister made it clear she has no intention of helping financially. I'm a social worker and my husband's retired. We have a fixed income but would do what we have to to help mom. So many unknowns.

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One of the biggest reasons for getting a lawyer these days is that they are familiar with Medicaid in your state and what allowable expenses for spend-down are, the reporting requirements, and a timeline if any assets can be sheltered for as long as possible. If a person has a spouse that stays in the community, with laws ever changing, it really makes sense to consult an attorney to make sure that you don't overspend assets that are protected, or miss out on any programs that you might qualify for. My husband's parents are using one right now to make sure that the assisted living they are at is paid for by Medicaid. Some types of AL are available for assistance by waiver, and the lawyer helped him identify one. Also, a lawyer is a second set of eyes and frequently more listened to than kids by elder parents.
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It could cost you more without the attorney.
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I agree with the others, and as a legal professional myself: elder-oriented/estate planning lawyers are worth their weight in gold for Medicaid qualification issues (and asset preservation if done the 5 years before you need to qualify for Medicaid). Even if you are a few years out from needing Medicaid, I strongly recommend meeting with the lawyer now to parse out your options. I am a paralegal, with some expertise in trusts and POAs, etc., due to my job. My mother-in-law's affairs were already in proper order, in my opinion. But I wanted reassurance that nothing was missed and visited an elder-law attorney anyway. I wasn't even charged the full fee because everything was in order. It was a very small price to pay for their expertise and reassurance, and did get further advice as to options as my MIL progresses down her hospice/dementia path. Good luck and best wishes.
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As Guestshopadmin mentioned you need to understand the Medicaid rules and make sure you don't run out of money before getting her into a "Medicaid Bed". There are many things to know and the lawyer we used was worth every penny and more that we spent which was about $250.00.
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You can ask what the fees for the help you would need up front. We were surprised to find that the cost for help of an elder lawyer was nominal and we really needed it. Each situation is different. You might also check the local senior citizen center for advice on the subjects you are concerned about. Depending on your income, you may also qualify for legal aid. If there is a local college/university, they also give free advice at certain times. If you belong to a church, you could put a notice in your bulletin that you are seeking some legal advice for your situation. Wishing you the best outcome for your situation!
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I am POA for my 87 year old mother. Her biggest wish has been to leave her money to my brothers and I. I have had three appointments with an Elder Care Advisor, not an elder lawyer. Although this person charges a lot, he is certainly up-to-date on all Medicaid changes, etc. Plus, he can suggest residential facilities in our area and ways to conserve money ... as with my mother's wishes. All in all, I have been pleased with the advice given to me.
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Getting a second set of eyes to make sure all is set up to get mom to qualify for Medicaid to well worth it.

The red flag that is waving to me is your moms current AL situation. For medicaid, AL is paid by a waiver or a diversion of Medicaid funding by each state uniquely. As such, alot of facilities do NOT participate in the waiver program as it is not dedicated funding (like NH Medicaid $ is). So Does your moms AL have Medicaid beds? And if so what is the path for her to get into one? Usually it's 2 years private pay. But often it is not guaranteed. Why? cause as its a waiver so it changes as waiver programs tend to have a 5 yr funding run. So find out ASAP if there will be a bed for mom.

If not, then it's Plan B (sorry brad! Lol) & here is where the atty can be especially valuable. They will know what the best path is to get mom into and onto Medicaid in a facility and qualify both financially & medically.

Also please please pause before you blithely take mom into your home & you become her 24/7 caregiver. Talk with your SW friends about dealing with aging elderly before you do this.
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Best day of my recent life: ... it was the day I hired a Senior Financial Advisor for a year of counseling (which includes paperwork for state applications down the road, seeking any benefits due your loved one, and residence searching as needed) for the price of about 25% of a month of MemoryCare. 10 years ago my husband and I moved from LA and purchased a condo in my Mother's Active Adult Living community in Orange County (right next door to her) to help her in her mid-80s. This worked well for several years but there comes a time (91 in her case) when it is not enough help - So she advanced to Asst Living and now Memorycare all which are nearby. Since it looks like she could live to 100 despite her many challenges, I knew I had to prepare for that financially. (Tip: Never underestimate the lifeline of the elderly despite their medical/mental conditions because the will-to-live is an amazing thing.) Our community has a Social Services department which I contacted for advice as to "what to do when the money runs out". They recommended an established professional to me. I met with him for a free consult. He asked for all of the information (health, assets, possible qualifications for benefits due, like military spouse benefits) - and based upon the information I supplied to him, he told me what we would be able to do to assure my mother's care - specifically after age 97 - and on THAT very day part of the huge burden of worrying about her future was lifted from my shoulders. The responsibility of giving her the best possible life is what I call my "Full-time Part-time job" , but now I have some valuable HELP. He showed us various cheaper options to stretch her money and did paperwork to begin the process for MediCal so that we are prepared, in a year, to activate it as necessary. I worked in Healthcare Administration in Los Angeles but.....until it actually happens to you, you need professional CPA help to prepare for the future. At the cost of her monthly expenses, her house equity could not last forever considering she appears to be headed to being a Centenarian. My concern IS her health and happiness, and I take it very seriously. As the sports logo goes: Just Do It.
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I don't know enough about the situation to know if this phenomenon is applicable, but over the years, and more so now, I've seen professionals segue into the "not my job" approach and recommend any number of other professions, some of which have no bearing at all to the specific issues under discussion.

I think though that the financial planner felt you should see an elder lawyer just in the process of managing your mother's care. I assume an attorney did prepare the POA; I think you should see either an estate planning or elder law attorney to get the POA upgraded to a DPOA, given (a) your mother has moderate dementia, and (b) typically POAs aren't as broad in scope as a DPOA.

If your mother doesn't have estate planning documents and/or a trust, or an advanced directive (sometimes called a Living Will), I would consider an attorney to gt these in place before the dementia progresses.

From what you wrote, it seems as if you have a good understanding of what's involved and are already addressing it. Just think about expanding the authority you have so that it's in place as the dementia proceeds.
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I agree with the other posters. I am working with an elder care lawyer at the moment and he knows his stuff! For instance, I never knew that you had to show that a person has the ability to self-pay for a year. The application form for the memory care unit was a nightmare for me to complete and my lawyer did it all for me. He also prepared a living will, and has created a trust fund, etc. He's expensive, but it's worth it to me.
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