August 2022 Newsletter
August 2022 Issue
How to Choose the Perfect Guardian for Your Minor Children
It’s not something anyone wants to think about. The unexpected happens to you and your spouse, leaving your children behind. As unpleasant of a scenario as it is to imagine, it’s important to name a guardian who will raise your minor children according to your wishes.
But how do you choose the proper guardian? Last month we talked about how to plan a secure future for your children. But when you have minor children, how do you know who to pick to help your children in your absence?
Here are several factors you need to consider when making your selection.
Their Ability and Willingness to Serve as a Guardian
First, consider whether or not the potential guardian is willing to step in for you in the first place. The last thing you want to do is name a guardian before speaking at length with that person so they understand what this responsibility will entail.
Then it’s important to consider the prospective guardian’s existing lifestyle and obligations. Will they be able to meet the physical and economic demands of raising your children? Are they currently employed? Do they have a secure living arrangement?
Ideally, your prospective guardian will share your child-rearing philosophy, values, views on education, religious beliefs, and other fundamental principles. If you are unsure or know they hold different beliefs than your own, it’s important to clearly communicate your expectations and gauge their response.
Where They’re Located
You should also consider the location of the potential guardian relative to where you and your children currently live. If the prospect lives in another state, and is unable or unwilling to relocate for your children, you need to consider the impact that moving would have on your children, particularly an older child. What are the schooling options in their location? What is their neighborhood or town like? What extracurricular or hobby opportunities would be available to your children?
Their Existing Family
If your prospective guardian has children of their own, it’s important to find out whether or not they are willing to take on your children too. Additionally, reflect on whether you think your guardian would be able to give your children enough attention in a busy household and if your children would get along with the prospective guardian’s children.
The Age of Your Children
If your children are older and relatively mature, it could be helpful to ask for their input before you select a guardian. While it’s a potentially difficult discussion, it’s important that your children feel like they have a say in what would happen in their life too.
Through proper planning, you can ensure your children will be well cared for, raised according to your wishes, and happy in the event you cannot raise them yourself.
Understanding the Different Coverage Types for MassHealth
Planning for the costs associated with aging can feel overwhelming. Especially when you consider that 70 percent of older people will need long-term care services at some point in their lives. Yet, in 2021, the average nationwide cost of nursing home care soared to over $94,000 annually for a shared room. In Massachusetts it is $180,000 per year and continues to rise.
Knowing your long-term care costs are considered in advance will give you and your family peace of mind and allow you to focus on more than just how you will afford your care.
It is necessary to divide care costs into two parts. The first deals with your medical costs; and the second deals with your long-term care costs.
There are six types of MassHealth coverage available to those age 65 years and older. They are:
- Standard: This is the most comprehensive health care coverage MassHealth offers. (This plan includes long-term care services)
- CommonHealth: This option offers similar coverage to the Standard plan for disabled adults who do not qualify for Standard coverage.
- Family Assistance: This option offers coverage to seniors who meet the income and asset requirements for Standard coverage but have an immigration status that keeps them from securing a Standard plan. (This plan does not include long-term-care services).
- Limited: The Limited option is for emergency medical services only. This plan is for seniors who meet the income and asset rules for Standard or Family Assistance coverage but have an immigration status that keeps them from either plan. This plan doesn’t pay for long-term-care services.
- Senior Buy-In: This option will help pay for your Medicare Part A and B premiums and non-pharmacy Medicare copayments and deductibles. Some Standard coverage members also qualify for this benefit.
- Buy-In: Under this option, MassHealth will pay for your Medicare Part B premium.
Long-Term Care Coverage:
Coverage under the MassHealth umbrella may be available to those of all ages needing long-term care services. Massachusetts Medicaid coverage for long-term care at home or in a long-term care facility is available to those who are eligible. Eligibility will depend on age, income, and asset limitations, citizenship status, and disability status, among other requirements.
It’s strongly recommended that you work with an experienced elder law attorney to complete a Medicaid application for skilled nursing coverage at home or in a skilled facility. Failure to complete an application properly will affect your ability to receive benefits within a reasonable amount of time. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process, implement strategies that will save your hard-earned assets, and help you move quickly and effectively when you or a loved one is already in or about to enter a nursing home or needs skilled care at home.
This can be a confusing and time-intensive process, but it doesn’t have to be. Our team is ready to help you plan today, in advance of your own or a loved one’s need for long-term care.
A Personal Note From Susana
Happy 18th Birthday. You are now officially an adult.
Dear Friends, parents and grandparents,
If you or someone in your life has turned 18 and resides in Massachusetts, then you or they are officially an “adult” in the eyes of the law. Technically an 18-year-old is independent of parents or guardians and can make all sorts of decisions without oversight or permission from anyone. The classic situation where reaching the age of majority without making the effort to “assign” positions of responsibility to trusted people causes problems, is the accident, rendering an 18 year old unconscious. Parents who want to help are “locked out” because there is no Health Care Proxy signed by the 18-year-old to enable them to help. The most important of these concerns the authority for someone to manage health care issues should the 18-year-old become unable to manage them himself or herself. If there is no health care proxy document, the doctors are forced to ask the parents to go to court to obtain guardianship over their own children to make decisions.
In the same situation, parents cannot pay bills for an of-age child from that child’s accounts without the power to do so, which is usually granted through a Power of Attorney.
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has posted an interesting article on line at www.mass.gov/ago/18, to help 18 year olds understand both their rights and responsibilities.
At Lannik Law we have a special program to start 18 year olds on their way to independence through the development of Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, and HIPAA releases at a special rate for our new adults. We look forward to helping out our families!