Planning for Your Future Healthcare Decision-making: What Are Superagers?

Some elders will retain a significantly sharper memory and cognitive ability than their peers. In a recent study, it was identified that these people all carry a very unique trait.
The natural process of brain decline regarding memory begins in the late 20s and early 30s, however the average ager, according to a recent study indicates that memory is atrophying at twice the rate of someone who is classified as superager. Atrophy progression seems to blocked by superagers.
One of the most important connections for you to make is that you may struggle with a cognitive decline at any point in time, particularly after a major health care event or a car accident, for example.ThinkstockPhotos-71036988
Paying attention to your health at all ages is important, but you might not always be able to make decisions for yourself. If you’re incapacitated but have clear wishes about your medical care, another person should know these concerns and be legally allowed to make them on your behalf.
Having critical legal documents in place such as stipulating who is eligible to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf can make a huge difference for your loved one’s ability to step in and articulate your wishes for you. No one expects to be a victim of an accident but taking the necessary planning steps now can help to minimize the chances that you and your loved ones will be confused and unsure of next steps.    Contact a Virginia estate planning attorney today to learn more.

Wealth Planning and Long-Term Care Planning for Aging Parents

If you have the responsibility of taking care of your aging loved ones, this is an extremely common situation that is facing more people in the sandwich generation. The sandwich generation often has children of their own, while they are also helping with the health care management or the costs associated with the loved one.
Many people don’t like to think about incapacity, money or death, but this is extremely important for any situation in which you are helping a loved one work through the issues of aging. There are several different steps that you can take in order to minimize the negative impacts of failing to plan. Failing to plan can make things more complicated for everyone, in the event that your loved one suffers from incapacity or suddenly passes away. Several different things should be discussed with your aging parents, including:

  • Putting together a living trust.
  • Planning for the possibility of long term care, including long-term care insurance.
  • Evaluating housing options.
  • Determining transportation needs.
  • Ensuring proper documents are in place.

Having a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you address many of the issues associated with the estate planning and the elder law planning process. Learn more about how estate planning Virginia can help you by setting up a consultation today.

What You Should Know About the Rise in Costs of Long Term Care

Over the course of 2015 and 2016, long term care is on the rise. Long term care refers to any situation in which an individual has suffered an incapacitating event or significant healthcare event prompting a stay in a nursing home or another type of medical assistance. According to surveys from Genworth Financial, in 2015 a private nursing home room cost edged up to $100,000 per year.
Americans on an average are paying more for care options such as assisted living communities and health aides. Private nursing home rooms come with a median annual bill of just over $92,000. That’s an almost 20% increase since 2011. Planning ahead for long term care is important, not just as it relates to purchasing insurance but also for identifying the healthcare documents you need from your estate planning lawyer to assist you with protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Should you become incapacitated, this could trigger a broad range of legal questions that can only be answered by another person in the event that you have set up your estate planning documents to empower another individual to make these decisions on your behalf. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible if you find yourself in this situation is strongly recommended.

For Caregivers, Ensuring Legal Matters Essential

Doctor laying hand on senior man's shoulder
Doctor laying hand on senior man’s shoulder
Caregivers of people with serious illnesses, particularly cognitive issues of the elderly, have a lot on their plate, but they also have an obligation to make future legal preparations for their loved ones.
“As a caregiver, you should begin making legal preparations soon after your loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness,” states an article on the webmd website. “People with Alzheimer’s disease and other long-term illnesses may have the capacity to manage their own legal and financial affairs right now. But as these diseases advance, they will need to rely on others to act in their best interests. This transition is never easy. However, advance planning allows people with a long-term disease and their families to make decisions together for what may come.
“Clearly written legal documents that outline your loved one’s wishes and decisions are essential for caregivers. These documents can authorize another person to make healthcare and financial decisions, including plans for long-term care. If the person being cared for has the legal capacity, the level of mental functioning necessary to sign official documents, he or she should actively participate in legal planning. To give your loved one the best care possible, obtain legal advice and services from an attorney experienced with these issues. If the person you’re caring for is age 65 or older, consider hiring an attorney who practices elder law, a specialized area of law focusing on issues that typically affect the elderly.” advises caregivers to be certain that important documents are in place, including:

  • Power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney for health care, also known as health care proxy
  • Living will
  • Living trust
  • Will


Long-Term Care Rate Hikes Troubling

As members of the Baby Boom generation move into retirement and beyond, long-term care insurance policies to help cover the costs of assisted living or nursing homes are becoming more and more of a necessity, rather than a luxury.

Nursing home clown visit
(Photo credit: Kara Newhouse)
Unfortunately, the cost of these policies is rapidly become prohibitive for a large segment of our aging population, according to a recent story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In the story, staff writer John Reid Blackwell notes that such policies date back nearly four decades and that millions of Americans have been paying the premiums for them.
“Yet costs for long-term care insurance have been rising dramatically in recent years, the result of numerous factors including miscalculations by the insurance companies that have sold policies,” according to the story. “Faced with higher-than-expected payouts on long-term care policies and lower-than-expected investment returns on premiums paid, some insurers have exited the market entirely.
“Other major providers such as Henrico County-based Genworth Financial Inc. and Boston-based John Hancock Financial, a division of Canadian insurance company Manulife Financial, have sought approval from state insurance regulators across the country to raise premium rates. The rising rates mean that people who may have been paying for a policy for many years are seeing double-digit percentage increases on premiums that can already run several thousand dollars a year.”
“This phenomenon in recent years of very significant premium rate increases for long-term care insurance is something that is pretty widespread in this country,” Jacqueline K. Cunningham, Virginia’s commissioner of insurance, is quoted as saying. “It is something that we have been keeping our eye on, and it is definitely a source of concern. We have gotten complaints from a lot of people who are concerned about the rate increases they have gotten.”
In Virginia alone, Blackwell noted, regulators have approved 82 rate increases sought by 33 legal entities for long-term care policies between Jan. 1, 2009, through Aug. 14, 2013, according to a study conducted for the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance last year by members of the American Academy of Actuaries.
“The average annual premium increase was 36 percent, with a range of increases from 8 percent to 100 percent. As of Dec. 31, 2012, there were 259,159 individuals in Virginia covered by long-term care insurance policies, according to the report.
“A number of these policyholders have received financially challenging rate increases on their policies,” the report said.
“As a result, ‘some policyholders are not able to afford their current LTCI premiums and are having to reduce their policy benefits, if able to do so, or allow their coverage to lapse,’ the report said.”

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Planning for the unplanned requires expert advice

Most people don’t want to contemplate their death, but that doesn’t prevent them from planning for it in terms of their estate.
And while most people likewise don’t want to give a thought to a relationship failing to work out, it happens. Wise individuals also make plans with this sad possibility in mind.
“People generally, and family lawyers, don’t always understand the impact of relationship breakdown on the family estate plan,” Alex Tees wrote in an article for the website “For clients with their own businesses, substantial investment assets and superannuation balances, good estate planning is essential.”
Immediate important matters to consider, according to the story, include:

  • Should a new will be made, because generally a divorce cancels the old one?
  • Was the ex-husband, ex-wife or other kind of ex a director or officer of a business?
  • What kind of long-term planning must be made to protect children?
  • Does the change in circumstances call for a new executor of the estate?

“As you can see the list highlights many issues and most of them are complex to both understand and rearrange for new circumstances,” Tees wrote. “This is why professional help is essential for effective estate planning needs.”