News & Resources: Blog

Preparing Your Parents for the Future

Published: October 27, 2022

It’s a mistake to wait to discuss finances with your aging parent, who may be in cognitive decline.  It will take time to gather all the information you need for a complete financial assessment of their aging needs. Asking these questions while your parents are younger, even still working, is the best time to begin.

The founder of Enduring Wealth Advisors, Ralph Bender, says, “Waiting until a senior’s decline is evident may already be too late. It would be best if you were talking to them about it while they’re still working because they’re still competent and still able to fund (long-term care) and pay the premiums from income”.

What Topics Should You Discuss with Aging Parents?

Perhaps your parent is talking about downsizing, taking a long cruise, claiming Social Security benefits, or a friend of theirs is entering long-term care. These situations provide optimal moments to address their future financial needs and ways you can help them plan. Planning is best in stages, from the least uncomfortable inquiries to the most. Questions may include but are not limited to:

  • Where does your parent store their estate planning and financial documents? What do they own, and what do they owe?
  • Ask for introductions to your parent’s various advisors. Being familiar with the estate attorney, financial consultants, insurance specialists, and more will make getting up to speed in a crisis moment much more manageable.
  • Who are your parent’s medical professionals, including doctors, and can you best contact them? Copy or create a current list of their prescriptions and find out what pharmacy they use.
  • Inquire about long-term care planning. What type of care does your parent prefer if they need help with activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, dressing? Do they want to remain in their home or move closer to family? Do they envision moving into a retirement community? Is their current financial situation secure enough to pursue the high cost of long-term care?
  • What are your parent’s wishes regarding end-of-life care, including advance medical directives encompassing living will, power of attorney, and health care proxy? In a medical crisis, these documents will provide the legal right and medical guidance for you to make choices that reflect your parent’s desires.
  • Does your parent want a funeral, and have they made those plans? Is there money to cover these expenses?

How your parent responds to these inquiries will indicate their understanding of their financial situation. Suppose the answers they provide do not seem to map out their reality. In that case, you will need to carefully read through their most recent financial statements and other relevant documents to understand how to help them realistically.

When You Should Seek an Elder Law Attorney for Your Aging Loved Ones?

If their financial situation is complex, it may be time to consider consolidating their assets and begin Medicaid planning with their elder law attorney to conserve assets in a trust. The sooner these assets are legally protected, the faster your parent can become eligible for federal assistance, mainly to avoid the five-year lookback rule.

Your actions as their financial advocate permit you to mirror your parent’s values and preferences when guiding their financial decisions. Elder law attorneys often have a client fill out an “instructions for my advisor” form permitting attorney discussion among the adult children or power of attorney. This form is helpful to address the issue of clients exhibiting changes in behaviors and the expression of different desires from previously stated objectives.

Other relevant service providers such as a parent’s insurance company have similar “designation of representative” or “authorization to release information” forms that permit discussions about the parent’s account. Filling out these relevant forms provides needed access to data and lets you make more informed decisions.

The Importance of Establishing Financial Advocates for Aging Seniors

If your parent does not have a designated financial advocate, now is the time to select one. Usually, this person is a family member or trusted friend, bonded and insured, or at least under the oversight of a third-party professional.  This advocate will assist with the parent’s primary financial responsibilities such as:

  • Daily financial management
  • Health insurance and other insurance policy management
  • Investment and retirement income sources management in concert with the parent’s financial advisor
  • Home and other property management

Starting these financial conversations and early planning will maximize your older parent’s independence and provide them some peace of mind. When all involved parties understand and agree to the strategies, you will have streamlined the process, and your parent will experience the best outcomes possible.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

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It can be quite confusing to determine which Medicare plan is best for you. There are several types of plans, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding some basic features will help you decide how to maximize your healthcare dollars and choices. You should review your choice periodically, especially as elements of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 change prescription medication and vaccine policies. Coverage can also change from year to year..

There are three basic types of plans:

  1. Original Medicare
  2. Medicare Advantage
  3. Medigap

Original Medicare

Medicare is a government health insurance plan for people 65 and older. Original Medicare, sometimes called traditional Medicare, comes in several parts. Each part covers different things and has various associated costs. 

Most people do not pay for Part A as it was deducted from their taxes paid while working. It is primarily for hospital visits and nursing care. However, there are many fees associated with being in a hospital that Medicare does not cover, which you still might have to pay out of pocket.

Part B requires monthly premiums, which can be deducted from your social security. You can elect to enroll in part B through Original Medicare. It covers a portion of doctors' visits, durable medical goods, and more. 

Part D covers the cost of many prescription medications. You can add it to Original Medicare or purchase it as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is offered through private insurance companies that Medicare approves. Most plans include Parts A, B, and D of Original Medicare with some variations from the original. There are a wide variety of Medicare Advantage plans, including Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO). PPOs tend to have higher premiums and offer more choices than HMOs. Medicare Advantage HMOs and PPOs often have higher premiums than traditional Medicare because they usually cover more expenses, including prescription drug costs, vision, hearing, and dental.

However, the overall costs, premiums, plus out-of-pocket expenses for Advantage plans can be lower than Original Medicare because the private insurers manage patient care and limit choices. They assemble networks of hospitals and physicians to control their costs and reduce their customer's premiums. They also restrict access to certain providers and increase the cost of care obtained out-of-network.

Traditional Medicare allows people to seek care from any provider participating in Medicare, which includes virtually all hospitals and physicians.

Medigap

Medigap is a co-insurance or supplement to Original Medicare. You can enroll when you first enroll in Part B. It is also available through Medicaid, a union, or a former employer when you qualify for both programs. You can’t have both Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Medigap helps cover expenses that Original Medicare does not cover, such as co-pays and deductibles. Due to the enrollment restrictions, you should strongly consider Medigap when you first become eligible.

The Right Choice for You

With all the different plans, parts, choices, and restrictions, it is crucial to consider your priorities for care. Limited access to doctors and hospitals may become important if you need specialized medical care, such as cancer treatment. Before enrolling, consider what specialty hospitals are included in Advantage plans. Likewise, Advantage plans can make it difficult to see a specialist for ongoing and chronic conditions due to limitations in long-term care services. An estate planning lawyer or elder law attorney can help address long-term care planning and the potential to qualify for Medicaid when necessary.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a cost analysis to help you determine when Medicare Advantage would save you money. As you can see, the longer you stay in the hospital, the less advantageous an Advantage plan becomes.

Consumer Reports notes that the JAMA reported that seniors on Advantage plans often get more preventive care than those on traditional Medicare plans. JAMA published a comprehensive paper about how Medicare plan choice affects spending and discovered that Medicare Advantage enrollees usually spend less.

Consumer Reports notes that the JAMA reported that seniors on Advantage plans often get more preventive care than those on traditional Medicare plans. JAMA published a comprehensive paper about how Medicare plan choice affects spending and discovered that Medicare Advantage enrollees usually spend less.

A Guide in Choices after 65

Enrolling in the right Medicare coverage is one of many decisions that will affect your quality of life in your senior years. We are here to help you navigate a wide variety of choices.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Traditional Medicare

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