In the previous blog post, our Tampa Estate Lawyers covered the first two legal areas you should address if you have recently been diagnosed with cancer. In this post, we’ll cover the remaining issues you should now focus on:
- Creating a financial roadmap
- Making a plan to pay for long-term care
Leaving your family with a roadmap of your financial affairs can take a tremendous amount of pressure from off their shoulders. Most adults spend years building their financial life. Picture a spider web of all your accounts and policies that someone else may soon have the job of tracking down. Yikes!
For your family’s sanity, and your peace of mind, it’s a wise idea create a plan that ensures no one becomes stuck in that web if your health takes a turn for the worse or you pass away. Here are a few things you can start right away to get your financial life in order.
- Create a list of your accounts, and include ALL account numbers.
- Create a list of professionals that you work with including lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc.
- Reveal the location of your legal documents including your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, etc.
- Gather the policy information for any type of insurance that you have including Life, Health, Disability, Long Term Care, Property, and Auto.
- Assemble the past five years of tax returns and bank statements.
- Provide any burial or prepaid funeral information to your Personal Representative.
- Provide online login and password information to financial accounts as well as accounts where you might store family photos or videos.
- Create a list of all assets and property that you own.
Finally, it’s an unpleasant reality that the majority of individuals who experience a steady health decline end up needing some form of long-term care, whether that’s in-home nursing assistance, help with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, toileting), or nursing home care. Long-term care can be expensive, and paying for it may take some planning. Some options to consider are:
- Your own money/assets – The cost of nursing home and other long-term care options is very high and can run in excess of $10,000 a month here in the Tampa Bay Area. If you do not plan ahead, you may be forced to pay for your care out-of-pocket until all of your assets are “spent down” to the point that you are impoverished. Only then will you become eligible for benefits from the government, such as Medicaid, to help with your long-term care costs.
- Medicare – Please don’t fall for the myth that Medicare will cover ALL your bills if your health declines. It won’t. Medicare is only a short-term solution. Medicare will pay for limited nursing home or other skilled care for rehabilitation issues and is usually limited to 100 days. If you don’t have a reasonable chance of getting better and your care is likely to last beyond this 100-day period, you must explore alternatives.
- Medicaid – Again, Medicaid will pay for your care only after you have depleted most of your own assets. This is a need-based program that has strict income and asset requirements in order to qualify. There is one caveat, however. There are legal planning options, such as properly utilizing Living Trusts that safeguard your assets but keep them “technically” out of your name so that you can qualify for assistance. Medicaid Planning should be done with the help of a Tampa trust and estate lawyer, as there are strict rules and regulations that you must follow on both the federal and state level.
If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, feel free to call our office at 813-438-8503. Just let us know your situation, and we will offer you a consultation. We can’t make the cancer go away, but we can help you firm up your financial and legal affairs, and that will free your mind to let you focus on what is really important – your health!