Home Finances All About Spend Downs, Part 4

All About Spend Downs, Part 4

Medicaid eligibility

When talking to an elder law attorney, what questions should you ask about spend downs, and what questions you should be prepared to answer? If you have the power of attorney for a senior loved one, how do you start the conversation with the family about their assets, and how do you best navigate this with them? Elder law attorney Jim Koewler joins Suzanne Newman to answer these questions.

Many people have false assumptions about Medicaid. The biggest question is how much care is needed. Most people don’t think they want assisted living, but also don’t realize the family burdens this creates to provide them with 24/7 care forever. This is an unrealistic expectation, because the quantity of care eventually exceeds caregiver ability, and the person receiving care then struggles when they aren’t getting the support they need.

Start the conversation with, “I want to try to keep you home, but what happens when I don’t think I can any more?” That is a difficult question to ask, but it has to be asked.

What next? Unless the caregiver is an RN with long-term care experience, explain that you’re not an expert with the type of care they may eventually need, so seek out a geriatric care manager. Go to https://www.aginglifecare.org and search for one near you. Tell your family that you need to gain some expertise on what your loved one is likely to need down the road. Make a care plan with professional input.

Find out what’s expected of you: what kind of care your loved one wants. Make sure you have power of attorney, so medical personnel can talk to you about their care. Your caregiver should have general power of attorney for you — if they’re caring for you, empower them to pay for your care.

Even if care isn’t needed yet, notification of power of attorney should be given to banks and investment houses so legal departments have time to look over the legal documents. Don’t put this off until an emergency arises, as you don’t have to have to wait for legal reviews in order to get funds.

For spend downs, you have to ask about, and know about your loved one’s assets.

Jim Koewler addresses later-life financial and legal issues. Talk to an elder law attorney to guide you in your state with your situation. Learn more at Answers for Elders or at Jim’s website.

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