Natural disasters, like Covid 19, are not something we can plan for; they happen at the whim of the environment. However, in the work that I do with our elder law and special needs team, I have learned that there are definitely things that can be planned for so that our loved ones do not face a crisis without our prior and proper preparation. Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The moment the tornado hits is not the time to think that you should have re-evaluated your homeowners insurance, a medical or family crisis is not the time to think about the fact that you never got around to updating your estate plan. Below are some mistakes commonly seen that I encourage everyone to think about.
Have you thought about what would happen to your pet in the event of your death or incapacity? Approximately two-thirds of American households own a pet, and while we have many people in our busy lives, our pets have only us. Pet owners often lament that beloved animal companions don’t live as long as we do, but they still warrant consideration in our estate plans because we don’t know what the future will bring. This is especially true for animals with longer life expectancies or higher costs of care, such as dogs, cats, horses, parrots, turtles and animals with special needs.
Caring for an ailing family member is difficult work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be unpaid work. There are programs available that allow Medicaid recipients to hire family members as caregivers.
Social Security survivor’s benefits provide a safety net to widows and widowers. But to get the most out of the benefit, you need to know the right time to claim.
Medicare’s hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. It is one of Medicare’s most comprehensive benefits and can be extremely helpful to both a terminally ill individual and his or her family, but it is little understood and underutilized. Understanding what is offered ahead of time may help.