Elder Law And Estate Planning With Atty Sara Barnett

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Mike Chua, a physical therapist. Today, we are at the Alzheimer's conference with Attorney Sara Barnett, who specializes in elder law and estate planning.

We delve into the importance of powers of attorney and how they can assist in making decisions for individuals who are unable to do so themselves. Sara emphasizes that powers of attorney are essential for everyone regardless of age, as accidents can happen to anyone.

In this episode:

0:00:01 Introduction to the Alzheimer's conference and elder law

0:01:14 Importance of powers of attorney in estate planning

0:03:04 Medicaid benefits and planning for nursing home care

0:04:14 The five-year look back period and protecting assets

0:05:10 The importance of creating trusts for property protection

0:06:32 When to start planning and finding a local attorney

0:07:52 Planning for Minor Children and Guardianship

0:09:06 Blended Families and the Need for Legal Advice

0:10:42 Major Life Events and the Importance of Legal Consultation

Without a power of attorney, the court needs to appoint a conservator, which can be a costly process. We also address the common challenges faced by Alzheimer's and dementia patients, stressing the need for a trusted person to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf.

Moving forward, we discuss the distinction between regular law and elder law. Estate planning encompasses wills, trusts, and power of attorney, while elder law focuses on helping individuals qualify for necessary benefits like Medicaid for nursing home care. Sara highlights the difficulties in paying for nursing home care due to the high costs involved.

We recognize the importance of planning ahead to protect family assets from being claimed by TennCare. Sara mentions the five-year look back period, where transferring assets to family members can render one ineligible for benefits. Trusts are suggested as a means to safeguard assets from creditors, divorce, and liens.

Furthermore, we draw attention to the relevance of elder law and estate planning for those with Alzheimer's and dementia, specifically addressing the financial aspects of their care. We explore the ideal time for individuals to start planning for their future, particularly if they are in their sixties. Seeking guidance from a local attorney or elder care specialist is encouraged.

We underscore the importance of estate planning, even for young people with minor children, as creating a trust for the children ensures their financial security and avoids complications in court.  We address the personal question of a foreigner without family members or citizenship, suggesting a consultation to address their specific situation.

Appointing a trustee for the children and a guardian in case something happens to the parents is emphasized. The speaker shares a personal experience highlighting the significance of making these decisions in advance. The presence of advanced directives and living wills for end-of-life decisions is also mentioned.

Blended families require extra consideration and consultation with a lawyer to protect the interests of all parties involved. Major life events such as marriage, divorce, diagnosis of dementia, or the birth of children should prompt a discussion with a lawyer. Cultural differences, particularly in Asian and Filipino cultures, are briefly mentioned regarding end-of-life planning.

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About the Author

Dr Michael Chua is a physical therapist practising in Home Health, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Acute Care Hospital. His clinical interest involves pain management, geriatrics and dementia management. He enjoys treating patients and bringing out the best in them using positive treatment approaches, his dynamic work setting in a rural area provides an opportunity to treat a wide range from geriatrics to orthopaedics.

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