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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, July 20, 2020

What Is Life Care Planning?

Life care planning reflects a new mindset in estate planning. Traditionally, when a person set up an estate plan, the goal was to preserve as much wealth as possible for the next generation. One consequence of this approach was that heirs sometimes saw seniors as expensive liabilities on the family’s inheritance. Life care planning views older adults as valuable people whose comfort, safety, health, and well-being should be the first priority of their estate plan. A California estate planning attorney can help you create a life care plan for yourself or a loved one.

Initially, the field of life care planning developed to create holistic strategies for people with chronic medical issues or devastating injuries. Let’s say that a person became paralyzed from the neck down after a spinal cord injury in a car accident. The life care plan would address the lifetime needs of the injured person, like the costs of anticipated medical treatment, housing, equipment, nursing services, home health care or staying in a long-term care facility, and other expenses.

Estate-Planning and Life Care Planning

When applied to the estate planning setting, a life care plan can marshal the private assets and public benefits programs needed to pay for the quality of life the senior wants. Also, the document can specify details about:

  • Who will handle the older adult’s financial matters if he cannot do so for himself,
  • The senior’s wishes about medical treatment and designation of the person who can make those decisions on behalf of the elder, if he cannot do so,
  • How to handle crisis situations,
  • Standard estate planning documents, like a will or trust,
  • Other services applicable to the individual’s situation.

Life care planning can have a positive impact on both the senior and the family. The family understands the wishes of the older loved one, and the elder has peace of mind in knowing what to expect.

Avoiding Crisis

Before the emergence of life care plans, the specter of illness and injury among older adults hang over the heads of seniors and their families like the sword of Damocles. Everyone knew the likelihood of the elder getting sick or hurt, but they did not have strategies in place ahead of time.

When the older person became ill or got injured, the family might have to scramble to seek legal remedies, like a guardianship, to have the legal authority to handle the person’s financial matters. Precious weeks or months could pass while the older person’s bills became delinquent, and assets deteriorated. Also, without a written plan, conflict can arise between friends and family about who will step in and take over the decision-making for the senior.

Sometimes families experience long-term damage to relationships because of these disputes. A life care plan can help the loved ones avoid arguments about the type of care the older adult wants.

Seek Expert Advice

When the senior cannot communicate for himself, the life care plan can speak for him. Imagine the unhappiness a person would suffer after a stroke that robs him of the ability to speak, write, or communicate. A life care plan would ensure that he receives the quality of life that he wants even when he cannot express those wishes.

Contact us today. Our California estate planning attorney can answer your questions about life care plans and draft the documents for you and your family.


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