Incorporating Community Benefits into Your Elder Care and Estate Plan
As we age, our overall needs change. Our need for healthcare services may increase, our ability to tend to our own needs may decrease, and our finances may be limited. Government healthcare and retirement programs don’t cover the day-to-day issues many seniors and their families face, but careful estate planning can. When considering your needs for elder care and estate plan strategies, remember to include community senior benefits and senior caregiving in your estate plan.
Elder Care and Estate Plan Strategies Should Consider Community Senior Services
Elder care is a personal and a community issue in West Virginia. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 19 percent of people in the Mountain State were age 65 or over as of April 1, 2017. That’s almost one in five West Virginians in the senior age bracket.
Many West Virginians have a family member in or near retirement. The senior years often come with stretched incomes, leaving seniors and their families financially strapped and unable to maintain the same standard of living and increased care required in later years.
Community senior benefits can help fill this void. State, local, and private groups offer assistance programs in a variety of areas:
Nutrition, food, and meal assistance;
Housing, bill, and maintenance assistance; and
Respite care and adult daycare.
In addition, private entities such as nursing homes and retirement communities also offer senior services. The first step is finding identifying possible needs, and the next is finding available resources.
Consider Nutrition and Food Services in Your Estate Plan
Nutrition can be a serious problem for seniors. Whether the cause is a lack of finances, a lack of mobility, or health issues, many seniors are unable to provide for their own nutritional needs without help.
The state, local communities, and philanthropic agencies try to fill the void left by many seniors’ health and financial situations. Learning about the nutrition assistance programs available in your area before you need them can help you better allocate resources in your estate plan.
For those on limited incomes, the West Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers monthly benefits to financially eligible households to help with food purchases. Some senior centers also provide meals on-site. An online publication from the WV Bureau of Senior Services lists meal sites available throughout the state.
For those with transportation or mobility issues, some local organizations provide transportation for grocery shopping. And an Internet search for “WV home meal delivery” provides a list of community organizations and companies that provide home meal delivery services in West Virginia.
Housing, Bill, and Maintenance Assistance as Part of Your Elder Care and Estate Plan
Not everyone is financially or physically capable of living independently. Some seniors merely require assistance with self-care or tasks around the home, while others require nursing care or medical monitoring. The cost of such services can often exceed a person’s income from employment or retirement benefits.
Families engaging in estate planning and seniors already in their later years need to consider the overall cost of housing as part of elder care services and estate plan needs in general when planning for the future. Housing costs include maintenance and repairs, which aren’t always predictable.
Seniors capable of living independently have costs associated with housing, but many have more limited financial resources than when they were younger. Affordable housing and maintenance costs can be hard to find for anyone, especially those on a tight budget. Financially eligible seniors can apply for Section 8 housing vouchers to assist with housing costs or look for more affordable senior living facilities in their area.
If housing is not the problem, maintenance and repairs might be. Some agencies offer financial assistance for seniors’ home repair and maintenance costs. The funds often come from grants and are limited, so seniors needing this assistance should contact their local Agency on Aging to apply as soon as the need arises.
The local Agency on Aging may also have programs to provide seniors help with inside and outside home maintenance such as general cleaning, laundry, raking, mowing, and snow removal.
Monthly utilities can also stress a senior’s budget. Some energy assistance programs are available to eligible members of the public regardless of age but may be especially helpful to seniors on limited budgets. The local Agency on Aging can help an eligible senior apply for the federally funded Low Income Energy Bill Assistance Program (LIEAP). A one-time grant is also available from the Dollar Energy Fund’s West Virginia Utility Assistance Program. This is a program of last resort and funding is limited.
Include Senior Caregiving in Your Estate Plan
Seniors with certain medical conditions may require monitoring and help with self-care even if they don’t yet require constant medical monitoring and nursing care. The burden on a family member providing care for elders can be great, but the cost for privately contracted care can be out of reach.
Primary caregivers with elder care duties on top of employment can find help from local agencies and private caregivers that provide respite care or adult daycare. The cost may vary depending on the caregiver organization, the number and length of caregiving sessions, and the particular needs of the senior needing care.
In West Virginia, Medicaid does not include assistance for adult daycare, but options for assistance may be available under the Personal Options portion of the Aged and Disabled Waiver. Special programs may be available to help provide care for a senior in your charge, such as West Virginia’s Family Alzheimer’s In-Home Respite program.
Resources for Elder Care and Estate Plan Strategies
Elder care can range from occasional assistance to full-time care. The cost associated with the type of care needed may well exceed the budget of those who need the help most. Planning ahead to consider the costs of elder care and estate plan needs in general can help assure you have more comfortable and secure twilight years.
To incorporate the cost of elder care and estate plan overall needs for your future, consider the resources addressed above. When consulting your estate planning attorney, senior caregiving should be a piece of the estate plan for your future. Additional resources can be found at the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and your regional West Virginia Area Agency on Aging.
Elder Care and Estate Plan
Too few people creating estate plans remember to consider elder care, and estate plan needs are incomplete without it. Where can you turn to make sure you consider everything necessary to create a comprehensive estate plan in West Virginia (WV)? Anna M. Price of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC is a seasoned estate planning attorney and ready to help you create a complete estate plan. Call her by calling 866.617.4736 or use her online contact form.