In Iowa, to begin planning for the long-term needs of an elderly family member – or to start your own long-term care planning – you can learn more about long-term care planning or begin the planning process by scheduling a consultation with a Cedar Rapids long-term care attorney.

Estate planning attorneys frequently help elderly adults and their loved ones plan for their retirement and for long-term care. Depending on an older person’s personal needs, your attorney may help with the planning for long-term nursing home care, assisted living, or home health care.

The right Cedar Rapids estate planning attorney can develop a customized asset protection plan on your family’s behalf to reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses and to maximize your savings for retirement and long-term care.

How Do Estate Planning Lawyers Work for the Elderly?

An Iowa estate planning attorney who focuses on long-term care planning will be able to answer these key questions for your older family members:

  1. Is there a way to be sure that my long-term care needs will be covered?
  2. How will I afford the cost of long-term care?
  3. Will any assets remain for my family?
  4. What financial risks can long-term care planning help me avoid?
  5. What financial resources may be available for my long-term care planning?

An Iowa estate planning lawyer will assist you and your family members with managing and planning for all of the legal and financial aspects of aging, including but not necessarily limited to:

  1. tax and estate planning, probate, trust management, and trust administration
  2. Social Security and Medicare claims, disputes, and appeals
  3. preserving resources for long-term medical care
  4. conservatorships and guardianships
  5. medical and financial powers of attorney

What Challenges Do Older Adults Face?

In the U.S. in 2021, many older people face serious debts. The average 65-year-old borrower now has 47 percent more mortgage debt and 29 percent more vehicle debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, after adjusting for inflation, according to statistics published in the Wall Street Journal.

Many need long-term care late in life, but unfortunately, some people cannot pay for that care. In 2020, the average cost for assisted living in Iowa exceeded $4,000 per month.

The long-term cost of medical care is a considerable financial challenge to older people in Iowa and across the United States. Medical debt, in fact, is one of the leading reasons why older people so frequently file for bankruptcy.

What Does Long-Term Care Planning Accomplish?

Without the right advance planning, long-term home health care, nursing home care, or assisted living care can quickly consume a family’s savings. However, effective long-term care planning can give you the assurance that your health care costs will be covered in the years ahead.

Whether you are planning in advance for the care of an elderly family member or facing an immediate crisis with that loved one, your first step should be to consult an attorney who can provide you with good planning advice and make sure that you are taking the right measures.

After reviewing your assets, your liabilities, and your present financial situation – or your elderly loved one’s situation – an Iowa estate planning lawyer will suggest the best ways to protect and preserve the savings so that whatever long-term care is needed will be affordable.

What Other Challenges Confront Older Adults?

A second financial challenge facing older adults is the potential for being incapacitated due to an unexpected and sudden injury or illness. Should you become incapacitated and unable to make important decisions for yourself, it’s vital to have the right incapacity plan already established.

Without an incapacity plan, an Iowa judge could designate a stranger to make your medical and financial decisions for you. It’s even possible that your immediate family members could have no influence or say regarding the financial and medical decisions that are made for you.

What Should Your Incapacity Plan Address?

Your incapacity plan should be prepared by a Cedar Rapids estate planning lawyer now, while there’s no question that you are clearly mentally capable. That plan should include:

  1. a revocable living trust
  2. medical and financial powers of attorney
  3. an HIPAA authorization

A power of attorney gives your “agent” – the person you choose – the authority to make financial choices for you to protect your financial interests. You should choose someone you trust completely and someone who has some financial knowledge.

A medical power of attorney gives the agent you choose the authority to make choices about your medical care if you cannot make those choices yourself, including choices about consent for surgical procedures, blood transfusions, tube feeding, CPR, respirators, and other key decisions.

A revocable living trust authorizes a trustee (someone you’ve designated) to manage your estate. A revocable living trust lowers your tax burden, and when you pass away, it allows your loved ones to avoid the costs of probate. You can change or cancel a revocable living trust at any time.

Including an HIPAA authorization in your incapacity plan will ensure that everyone knows your wishes about who has access to your health care records and who may communicate with your medical providers.

Choosing an Attorney for Long-Term Care Planning

Elder law advice and long-term care planning services are offered by many attorneys in the State of Iowa, but many of the attorneys who offer these services actually have little knowledge or experience in the field of elder law.

Before you choose an Iowa attorney to handle long-term care planning for yourself or your elderly loved one, have a prospective attorney answer the following questions to your satisfaction:

  1. How much experience do you have with elder law and long-term care planning?
  2. How much of your legal practice is focused on planning for the elderly?
  3. Do you focus on a particular area of elder law?
  4. What documents and other information will be needed for the initial consultation?
  5. What fees are required? How are the fees determined?

When Should You Contact a Planning Attorney?

As you grow older, let a Cedar Rapids long-term care attorney offer you cost-effective, creative legal solutions that protect your savings and provide the long-term care you need.

No one can know what tomorrow will bring, so now is the time to contact an Iowa estate planning attorney who focuses on long-term care planning for the elderly.