Life Care Planning – A Fresh Approach to Elder Law

As we age we navigate many changes including social, work, physical, and financial to name a few.  We’ve become pretty good at addressing our physical, work and social opportunities.

We might downsize to a smaller home as our children move out.  We may plan for retirement by considering volunteer and travel opportunities. We also connect with a doctor to identify ways to stay healthy.  As we are busy planning and enjoying the next phase of our lives, we sometimes forget about formally considering our legal and financial futures if faced with a life changing illness.  We’ve paid into Medicare and saved into a 401K, but how do we protect ourselves and our assets in the event of an unforeseen medical crisis?  One worthwhile solution is a Life Care Planning approach.  Life Care Planning is a holistic, elder-centered approach to the practice of law that helps families respond to many of the challenges caused by chronic illness or disability.

There are several benefits to a Life Care Planning approach.  One, Life Care Planning is a prevention based model rather than a crisis-oriented one.  In preparation for a possible debilitating health change, an individual can educate himself on available resources, evaluate current investment/insurance/burial policies, and budget accordingly, avoiding crisis driven decisions.

Second, good Life Care Planning relies on an inter-disciplinary team that evaluates current and future needs and locates and coordinates appropriate resources, helping to ensure quality care and services. When an individual receives advice from several independent sources, communication and continuity suffer and important information can fall through the cracks.  In contrast, Life Care Planning offers a “one stop shop” team of specialists, including a social worker, attorney and paralegal, that provide a more comprehensive, cohesive long term care plan.

Three, Life Care Planning assists with preserving family wealth.  When a person requires professional in-home or residential care, families are often shocked at the cost.  The average cost of home health care is $23-$37/ hour.  If an individual requires residential living, an assisted living can cost between $2,500-$8,000 and skilled nursing runs anywhere from $7,500-$11,000 per month.  Life Care Planning includes estate planning, asset preservation, and public benefits qualification whenever possible thereby helping families to pay for care without breaking the bank.

Life Care Planning is an improved method to assist older adults in navigating our long term care maze by helping them find, get, and pay for quality long-term care.

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Sandy Tobin, MSW, and Richard E. Romeo. Rick is a member of the Boulder County Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Rick Romeo is with Vincent, Romeo & Rodriguez, an established law firm with offices in Englewood and Louisville. He may be reached at 303-604-6030 or by email at Rromeo@elderlawcolorado.com