Between work and family, our busy lives often leave little time to focus on our own personal affairs, especially those related to our aging. I cannot emphasize enough, however, the importance of stepping back to assess whether you have adequately prepared yourself for the elder years before they are upon you.
All too often when I am reviewing the requirements for Medicaid Nursing Home eligibility and an asset protection plan with a client their immediate reaction is the same - they are never going to a nursing home and I need not waste any time discussing it. Fortunately, for many of my clients that may be true. For an equally large percentage, however, it is not.
In today's litigious society, it has unfortunately become commonplace for siblings, family members and friends to battle for control over the finances and care of their aging parents and loved ones. While the litigation may on its surface appear to be for the authority to make day to day financial and health care decisions, sadly, often at the root of the litigation is inheritance and monetary control. It is anticipated that litigation involving aging parents will rapidly grow in direct proportion to the aging population of the United States. The largest transfer of inter-generational wealth, estimated to be approximately 10 trillion dollars, will be from the War II generation to the "baby boomers." Such a transfer will inherently generate additional conflicts and controversies. Too often I have witnessed the bitterness, resentment and destruction of relationships among parents, siblings and loved ones. The effect, best described as a "family divorce," has an impact that may be felt for generations. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of such controversies affecting families. As is often the case, it is imperative that the potential solutions be implemented well before the problems begin to manifest themselves. Some potential solutions are:
Sadly, the exorbitant costs of nursing home care in Westchester County and the surrounding region have a number of seniors considering divorce as a means of preserving their assets and obtaining Medicaid. With nursing homes averaging $385 to $425 per day in Westchester, some of my senior clients have inquired as to whether divorce is a viable or necessary option.