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Texas Elder Law

Serving Families and Individuals in Houston, Sugar Land, The Woodlands and all Throughout the Houston Metro Area


Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include:  securing senior housing and accommodations; identifying, accessing and paying for quality care; identifying the need for long-term (or nursing home) care; creating, guardianships and health care documents; and applying for Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Benefits funding.

Senior Housing and Accommodations & Long-Term Care Options

The Long Term Care Dilemma

As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.

Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid, or perhaps Veterans Benefits.

Medicare

Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.

Medicare Resources

Texas Medicaid

Medicaid, is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a means tested benefit. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in Texas, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services provides a wealth of information for seniors and care givers.

We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid or Veterans Benefits eligibility may be an option.

Senior Housing Options

Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that the family home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime's accumulation of "stuff."

Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:

  • Plan ahead. Don't wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver's seat.
  • Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don't forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it's cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
  • Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
  • Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.

Click here for a chart of Texas Medicaid Facts for 2014.

American Association Of Attorney-certified Public Accountants
Naela National Academy Of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc Member
The College Of The State Bar Of Texas Professionalism Through Education
Life Care Planning Law Firms Association Member
Member Medicaid Practice Network
AV | LexisNexis | Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated | FOR ETHICAL STANDARDS AND LEGAL ABILITY TM
Thomas W. McCulloch of
Weiner & McCulloch, PLLC
5599 San Felipe Street, Suite 900
Houston, TX 77056

Phone: (713) 624-4294
Email: webinfo@houstonelderlawyer.com

Thomas W. McCulloch of Weiner & McCulloch, PLLC serves clients throughout Houston Texas.


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