It was Groundhog Day again–February 2. This was TV weatherman Phil Conners’ favorite day of the year. But that wasn’t always true. There was a time when Phil hated Groundhog Day with a passion. It seemed to Phil like anything that could go wrong did go wrong on Groundhog Day. In fact, Phil almost died on Groundhog Day on several different occasions. Phil felt like he had lived through more Groundhog Days than anyone he knew. Considering how bad this holiday usually went for him, that feeling was understandable.
Everything changed for Phil on one special Groundhog Day, when he finally connected with Rita, the love of his life. Phil had worked with Rita for a while before this fateful Groundhog Day, but his attitude and personality had always been a turn off to her. In fact, she couldn’t stand him. But finally, on one particular Groundhog Day, things changed between Phil and Rita. Phil’s life changed for the better that day, and he’s loved Groundhog Day ever since.
Phil’s luck seemed to be reversing, though, this year. He just received word from Rita’s doctor that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He had noticed that she was having issues with poor memory and confusion, but he had been in denial until receiving the call from the doctor today.
Phil was lost. He had no idea what he was supposed to do now. He didn’t know how fast her disease would progress or how soon it would be before Rita couldn’t take care of herself. Worst of all, he didn’t know what he was supposed to do when Rita’s condition reached the point that he needed help taking care of her.
Phil had no idea where to turn, so he decided his first course of action would be to search the internet for answers. He ran across the site of a local Elder Law attorney that was full of information about estate planning, asset protection planning, and other issues that suddenly seemed very relevant to Phil considering the recent news. He decided to set up a consultation with the Elder Law attorney. Even after reviewing the website, he still wasn’t sure exactly what the attorney might say that could help him, but he figured he had nothing to lose; the initial consultation was free.
As it turned out, the Elder Law attorney educated Phil on some very prudent steps he could take to make sure his affairs and the affairs of his wife were in order. He should probably have been concerned about the issues raised by the attorney even before Rita received the recent diagnosis, but they were especially important now.
Powers of Attorney
The first thing the Elder Law attorney stressed was the importance of power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney documents. Right now, it was obvious that Phil and Rita could both speak for themselves. The point with power of attorney documents, however, is to set them up before you need them, because once you need them, it might be too late. In a nutshell, the attorney explained, a power of attorney designates one or more individuals who can speak for you if and when you can’t speak for yourself. General power of attorney documents cover issues relating to business and financial affairs, while healthcare power of attorney documents cover all health related matters. It is important to have both, even when there hasn’t been a negative diagnosis. But it is absolutely essential to have both after receiving a diagnosis like Rita’s.
Asset Protection Trust
Another issue covered by the Elder Law attorney was asset protection. He noted how expensive long-term care can be, especially for someone in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He explained that there are some benefits available to individuals facing the potentially devastating costs of long-term care. However, those benefits are typically only available to those who have very few assets, or to those who plan ahead. The attorney explained that by planning ahead, a family can shelter assets in several different ways, protecting them from the costs of long-term care. One of the planning options that was most intriguing to Phil was the asset protection trust – an estate planning tool that can ensure that a family’s assets pass down to the next generation outside of probate and that a family’s life savings cannot be consumed paying for caregivers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
Phil knew that he would only have one chance to properly plan ahead. He could not afford to make the same mistakes over and over again, a problem he suffered with in the past. He was thankful that he stumbled upon this Elder Law attorney’s website and that he took the time to set a consultation. Although the information he received would not take away Rita’s problem, it would help them to manage in the best way possible.