Letsch Law Firm is pleased to support the Parkinson’sFoundation in its efforts to provide support, resource, and guidance to person’s diagnosed with this condition and their caregivers and family support. You will find links to events sponsored by the Parkinson’s Foundation, training for persons providing care and support, support group contact information, and a list of care facilities that provide memory/dementia care, so that you can be prepared if your loved one needs to move away from home and requires memory support.
A Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease does not automatically mean that the person is no longer capable of making decisions to appoint someone as agent under a power of attorney or to engage in estate planning. A medical diagnosis is used to determine the legal determination of incapacity, but does not stand alone to bar someone from exercising whatever control he or she actually has the capacity to control. It is not always all or nothing, even in the mid to latter stages where short term memory begins to become a problem.
#1. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, but still understands which family members would be the natural heirs, has an accurate recollection of the historical and current relationships with family members, and knows who he or she would want to assist him or her in his or her financial affairs, when needed, then schedule an appointment right now to put the most current and robust versions of powers of attorney in place so that you can avoid the need for a guardianship and conservatorship later.
#2. Review your estate plan to ensure that it meets your current and future needs, including providing security for your beneficiaries by identifying assets that you are still able to protect and to protect your beneficiaries from potential identity theft or exploitation that is an unfortunate byproduct of the public probate system. This is a must for the person with the medical condition and the person’s spouse.
#3. Get educated on the financial qualification rules related to Medicaid. The rules favor the married person and provide protection from impoverishment for the spouse. Many people are surprised to learn how much money they can shelter for their spouse and still qualify for benefits. If you are married, you need this education now, even if you are in the early stages. If you are single, you (or your agent) need this education at least five years before you will have spent down to below $50,000 for Iowa and Nebraska or $200,000 for Missouri. (Missouri has more planning tools available than Iowa and Nebraska). Of if you are fairly certain that you do not have five years before reaching these financial thresholds, then that planning opportunity is gone, and you can wait until you are nearing the financial thresholds listed.
#4. Consider purchasing a Home Health Care policy that will reimburse you for in-home therapies, home health aides, adult respite care, prescriptions, eyeglasses, hearing aids, medical social services, and more. These policies are very affordable and do not require underwriting, so you can qualify even if you already have a diagnosis, as long as you are still fairly independent. The goal is to stay home as long as you can. These policies help to fill the financial gap, so that you can afford the in-home care to do that. (Letsch Law Firm does not sell insurance; we just love this policy. If you are interested, we will help you connect.)
#5. If you are family or support, learn as much as you can about how this disease progresses and affect the body and the brain. The Parkinson’s Foundation provides some really great training for learning how to maintain a positive relationship with your loved one even as his or her brain is changing and his or her environment is becoming more difficult to navigate.