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Missouri Elder Law

Springfield, MO Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm

At Parks & Jones we are devoted to providing viable solutions to safeguard your assets given the high cost of long-term and nursing home care. We focus on tangible solutions to lessen the burden for individuals and families concerned about future nursing home costs, or who may already be facing these costs.

What is Elder Law?

Elder Law is an area of our law firm’s practice addressing the issues associated with aging. These areas include Medical Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Retirement Planning (What to do with your IRA, etc.), Life Insurance, and the prospect of long-term care and nursing home expenses.

At Parks & Jones we are devoted to providing viable solutions to safeguard your assets given the high cost of long-term and nursing home care. We focus on tangible solutions to lessen the burden for individuals and families concerned about future nursing home costs, or who may already be facing these costs. Many tools are available to preserve assets from potential nursing home costs and from the required spend-down of assets in order to qualify for programs which will pay for your long-term nursing home costs. The goal is to enable you and your family (NOT the government) to control your income and wealth so you are in charge of what happens to your property and assets.

Some of these tools involve proactive planning (at least five years prior to nursing home care being needed), while others are meant to preserve assets when the nursing home costs are imminent. It is always better to do proactive planning to maximize asset preservation and control, but this is not always possible.

Planning For The Future With So Much Uncertainty

Today, the national average of the annual cost of a semi-private nursing home room was over $80,000. How does one plan for the potential devastating effects of needing long-term nursing home care? Sometimes long-term care insurance is an option, but often this type of insurance is either cost prohibitive or the applicant is uninsurable. Elder law planning does not discriminate against age, previous health conditions, and is usually cost effective for most individuals. An ideal plan involves both of these planning strategies, but this is not often an option.

If there were tools available to you to protect you from the uncertain, high-costs associated with long-term care planning would you use them?

Consider This Story

You have the desire to make a difference and want to leave a legacy. Let us say you have $100,000 to use towards that goal. If you find 100,000 different individuals or charities and give each of them $1 you will have wasted your resource and really helped no one. Conversely, if you identified 3 people or charities, or loved ones (or some combination) and each received $33,333 you will have USED (not wasted) your resource, AND you will have targeted your resource in a way that makes a significant difference. Elder Care planning is about keeping your assets in the family, so you do not waste your resources and can positively benefit your spouse, children, and/or other beneficiaries.

Proactive Planning

In today’s ever changing healthcare climate, it is difficult to plan for one’s potential long-term healthcare. Healthcare costs, especially long-term nursing home costs, are on the rise and the planning tools to deal with this risk are complicated. Long-term care insurance is an option (and many times a good option), but far too often our clients are uninsurable due to their age or pre-existing health conditions. Furthermore, long-term care insurance premiums may not be guaranteed and could rise to a level you cannot afford when you truly need the benefit. Fortunately, there are options available, which can ensure the protection of your family’s assets from these unpredictable and expensive costs. Proactive Planning does not discriminate based on age or pre-existing health conditions and there are no monthly premiums.

Planning now is your best option because the costs of planning are lower, the strategies are less stressful and easier to accomplish, and there is a 5 year waiting period which must occur before your plan is fulfilled. There are options available to you which still leave you in control of your property and financial affairs, yet ensure your assets stay protected from: nursing home expenses; Medicaid liens; and the spenddown of assets. If you fail to plan, then these expenses could impoverish you and affect your loved ones who are dependent on those assets.

Proactive Planning is a great way to protect assets which are intended to stay in the family unit for a long time. We have successfully protected family farms and other important assets to ensure a legacy is left for many generations to come. In addition to real estate, many other types of assets can be safeguarded.

Proactive Planning involves careful analysis of your current health, what you own, your income streams, and family situation. This type of planning typically involves the use of a trust. There are all different kinds of trusts, but essentially a trust is a receptacle for assets—an empty bucket if you will. You will name a trustee, lifetime beneficiaries and identify the assets you desire to safeguard. There is a very specific process that must be followed and our law firm will be with you every step of the way to ensure compliance and completion.

There are many benefits to using a trust as a Proactive Planning tool rather than gifting all of your assets away to children or loved ones. A trust has many tax advantages and creditor protection advantages over outright gifting strategies. The trust also allows you to remain in control of your assets, rather than counting on someone else to use those assets for your benefit if ever needed.

If you are worried about long-term healthcare costs and want to ensure you and your loved ones are protected from this burden, contact our office for a FREE consultation to find out how Proactive Planning can provide you peace of mind. As a law firm devoted to protecting clients in the area of Elder Law we look forward to helping you and your family.

Crisis Planning

Sometimes the inevitability of long-term care sneaks up on a family and they find themselves at the nursing home door wondering what will happen to them or their loved one and to his or her assets. In this context, there are several tools and strategies available to provide some if not complete protection of assets. When we no longer have the luxury of the 5 year waiting period we can still provide your family with a focused and timely planning strategy that safeguards as much of your (or your loved one’s) assets as possible.

The most important thing to remember is you or your loved ones DO have options available, other than spending down all of the assets in a short period of time (for which you or your loved one has spent a lifetime earning).

“Crisis Planning”, in the Elder Law context, involves tailoring a plan which works for you or your loved one’s specific situation to ensure maximum protection of assets. These protected assets can be used to supplement the care of the individual in the nursing home, provide for the spouse who is not living in the nursing home, and/or provide for the beneficiaries ensuring they receive the inheritance which was always intended for them.

An important point in the context of “Crisis Planning” is to make sure you or your loved one’s Financial Power of Attorney contains the appropriate language empowering the agent to have the authority to plan on behalf of the disabled individual. If no Financial Power of Attorney is in place, then many times a guardianship and/or a conservatorship is needed. This is to be avoided if at all possible as we want to leave the probate court out of your financial affairs.

It is important to consult with an attorney who practices in this area of Elder Law, prior to making any “gifts” or doing any type of planning. Many times families believe they are protecting assets by “gifting” them away, but in all reality they are doing more harm than good. This “gifting” could lead to you or a loved one not receiving the level of care he or she may need.

At Parks & Jones we never charge for the initial consultation. We want you to contact us to find out what options are available to you. We can also assess your existing Financial Power of Attorney and/or help create a Financial Power of Attorney which allows for this type of planning if and when it is needed.

Please contact our office for a FREE consultation to see what type of planning is right for you. As a law firm devoted to protecting clients in the area of Elder Law we look forward to helping you and your family.

Serving Southwest Missouri Since 1993
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R. Clancy Parks and Cameron G. Jones

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R. Clancy Parks and Cameron G. Jones
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
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Parks & Jones, Attorneys at Law is a full service Estate Planning and Elder Law practice that provides comprehensive planning in the areas of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, probate and trust administration, probate avoidance planning, revocable trusts, Elder Law, long-term care planning, nursing home care, wealth protection, Veterans Benefits, special needs trusts, business law and business succession, charitable planning, and estate tax planning. Parks & Jones, Attorneys at Law serves clients and their families all throughout Springfield, MO and the surrounding areas of Branson and the Ozarks.

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