Families with loved ones in slow decline, or suddenly faced with an emergency need for care because of a stroke or fall, are fearful of the costs of long-term care and losing their home and assets. This fear can lead some to act hastily on bad information, or poor advice obtained from a relative of a friend who knew someone who had a similar need for care.
In 1930 congress established the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although not well known, the VA has programs that provide several types of long term care services. Veterans with service connected disabilities who are receiving a VA Pension or who meet the guidelines for low income, can get medical care, home care, assisted living, nursing home care, possibly prescription drugs, and other services.
Living wills are a relatively new development in the law. They came about due to increase in longevity and because of the dramatic advances in medicine after World War II which allows the doctors and machines to keep us technically alive although permanently unconscious or in a persistent vegetative state. Modern medicine is most often a blessing, but prolonging life where there is no hope, can be a curse.
Many people respond to advertisements about “living trusts”. Invariably the advertisement has an enticement, such as “avoid probate”, or “avoid taxes”. Sometimes people create a living trust, and sometimes they do not, but in almost all cases, it is my experience that the family has little understanding of what the trust does, and very often, a mistaken impression that the trust will protect their assets.
Every client coming in to prepare a will or trust is fearful of inheritance taxes, and the question is always asked, “How much will I lose to inheritance taxes?” Although many people are not subject to any tax, the unfortunate answer we have to give varies on what year a person might die, and the law is so silly it will either make you laugh or cry.