Planning for the End of Your Life
It doesn’t have to be the end of the worldBy Lisa Armstrong | Last updated on January 19, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- The Things To Gather for End-of-Life Planning
- Who’s Eligible for Medicaid?
- Care Planning When Things Change Fast
The Things To Gather for End-of-Life PlanningIn his book Be a Planner, Not a Gambler, Robert Abrams, an elder law attorney with Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara & Wolf, in Lake Success, outlines 11 steps to create such a plan. The first step is to gather the necessary documents, including the following:
- birth certificate
- Social Security card
- marriage license
- divorce decree
- family tree
- list of professionals: attorney, financial adviser and accountant
- list of passwords for email and other accounts
Who’s Eligible for Medicaid?Long-term healthcare is a big issue. The cost of a nursing home in New York is about $145,000 a year, and the maximum net income to qualify for Medicaid is $9,900 a year for a single person. “Twenty-five years ago, Medicaid was clearly the de facto long-term-care insurance for older people,” says Abrams. “But now, given the eligibility rules, many people need to pay for the tremendous cost of long-term care.” But tools can be used to help someone become Medicaid-eligible, says Peter J. Strauss, an elder law and estate planning and probate attorney with Drinker Biddle & Reath. New York has a Medicaid Surplus Income Program, which allows people to qualify for Medicaid if they spend their excess income on medical bills. Strauss also advises people to look into long-term-care insurance while they are young, so that they can get a reasonable price before costs go up. With people living longer, planning for old age is important.
Care Planning When Things Change FastFamily structures have also changed over time: divorces, second marriages, marriages for same-sex couples. Abrams says he has seen the needs of his clients change so much that he believes elder law attorneys should now be trained differently. “You can plan, but then all of a sudden [clients] have an issue, which is why I think elder law attorneys need litigation skills,” says Abrams. Living wills, living trusts, powers of attorney and other legal documents should be reviewed periodically to keep them up to date. That can get expensive, but Strauss notes, “there are organizations like NYLAG [New York Legal Assistance Group] that provide free and low-cost legal services for elderly people—as long as the elderly meet the guidelines.” For more information on this area of law, see our overviews of elder law, estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate and estate administration.
What do I do next?Enter your location below to get connected with a qualified attorney today.
Popular attorney searches: Estate & Trust Litigation Estate Planning & Probate
Additional Elder Law articles
Attorney directory searches
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you