Suzanne speaks with Phillip George, an elder law and estate planning attorney from Safe Harbor Legal Solutions at 360-746-7169. This segment focuses on setting goals for retirement planning, and more specifically what those goals should be. The idea is to set up plans to avoid crises in the future. You want to set a direction, know what you’re driving towards, and helps people articulate their needs.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
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And we are here with the wonderful elder law attorney here and Watchington State, Mr Philip George, and he is based not only out of Watkom County, yes, but he is license to practice all over the state of Washington and he’s as close as your computer zoom screen and we love talking to him today because we’re talking about all the things that we all, whether you’re forty six or seventy six, need to start thinking about. Retirement comes up really soon and I know that for me turning sixty five, there were a lot of different things happening for me as I was, you know, as I start to enter my senior years myself, and so looking at and Phil we we talked about in our last segment about, you know, why it’s important to set up goals, but we didn’t really talk about the goals themselves. Would you kind of give us a little expansion on that topic? Sure, absolutely so. As an under law attorney, as I was saying in the last segment, part of what we do is help people once a crisis is already yet, if somebody needs to access medicaid or they need to access in attendance to help with these just astronomical cost to come along with with needing long term care, and so what we’re trying to do when we develop these plans is is avoid that type of crisis in the first place, really help your family so that they’ve got everything laid out for them. So when I talk to people about about setting up their retirement plan, the reason that it’s important to have goals is so that you can really form a direction, so that you can know what you’re driving towards and it what it does. Is it helps people articulate their needs. And yes, so I so I can kind of capture everything. As as you know, people people, situations change and their family dynamics change. And and you know what’s what’s kind of funny, sins and the goals for people have. When I talk to families, and I’ve been talking to them for years about this now, there are three primary goals that families have when they talk about this type of planning, and it boils down to boils down to these things. One, they don’t want to end up running out of money, either do to uncovered long term care costs or estate taxes or something else. The second is usually that they don’t want to be forced into institutional care against their wishes. And the third, almost invariably, is that they don’t want to become a burden on their family or also a part of that is I don’t want my family to just start fighting like cats and dogs, as something happens to me. And these are things that we can really help your family with. We can help people lutely all of those things. We just have to get in and set up this type of planning early mm and and a lot of things that you’re saying are you know, this is the optimal goal for everyone, but it always, but usually, it doesn’t turn out the way you think it’s going to, sadly, and you know there’s always things that will throw in your in your path, and somebody like you that already has the plan, you have an ability then to foresee when changes happen. I know you know. For example, you know mom may have Alzheimer’s and dad’s taking care of her, but all of a sudden, Dad who’s been taking care of mom, you think mom’s going to die first, and so you set mom up in like a such special needs trust or something like that so dad doesn’t lose the house. Pray in with medical care, which is, you know, pretty common, or things like that. That has to happen. But here’s the challenge with that is, what if dad does right? So those are things that somebody like you can help with a lot of the safeguards that you know presumptions may happen. I’m also was aware not too long ago some statistics that blew me away that close to fifty percent of seniors that are in long term care or actually being subsidized by Medicaid. Yes, and that tells me a lot about, you know, the fact that most, many of us will run out of money, we’re going to end and we’re living longer and longer and longer and longer lives. So you know, when we look at like the baby boomer generation, that figures likely to go up even higher. I mean, are you? I’m assuming that that would be the case, wouldn’t it? Yeah, absolutely would. And you know, the real shame of it is that if I have a married couple, if a married couple comes to me one of them has dementia, I can I can move assets around and I a six spouse onto medicaid, usually in the space of three months, and I can say virtually one hundred percent of that couple’s a stay in that so important to really is. It really is. The Saddest Day is always when I’ll get I’ll get a couple, they’ll come in and they’ll say to me, Oh, Phil, this is a great day. We finally gave away all of our assets. Now we’ll just make your skin crawl. Yeah, that Med kids going to have a heat field day on that one, my goodness. Absolutely. And you could have avoided it all just sitting down and having a you know, a brief conversation. Even when people, even with single people, it’s a little bit harder, but I always tell people, even a single people, I am almost always able to say that the very least half of your state, just by using the same rules that have been out there forever about Medicaid, a lot of the same rules that very wealthy people use to move money around to avoid a state taxes. HMM. Well, I think’s there’s a stigma that comes with Medicaid. There really is, where people think that that Medicaid is is a welfare program or something along those lines, and I really have to tell you, folks, that it’s not. It’s not that way. It was never intended to impoverish people to get on the Medicaid. It’s something you’ve been paying into your your entire working careers, and so what I would say is that it really would behoove you and your family to take advantage of it if you can, because those costs, those long term care costs, well, I think the average in Washington is a little bit over tenzero a month for nursing home care. It’s ridiculous how expensive these things is, not to mention, I you know, medical bills and and who knows what’s going to happen in the future on, you know, healthcare scenarios. It’s just really overwhelming and so certainly, you know, that is a key issue. Also, a lot of families don’t realize that. If he I believe it’s if you served one day during wartime in the military, you qualify, providing you meet certain carteria. I think it’s under what is it? Hundred and thirty thousand dollars in assets? Is that what the number is? The I’m not the expert here. That’s okay when it comes to the so there are two different governmental organizations that help people pay for care. One is one is the Medicaid, and we just talked about that to get down to two thousand dollars, but that’s just moving assets around. That’s entirely possible. The other is the VA aid in attendance, pension and the aim attendance. The hard part about that is they give you a they kind of give you a rough number to shoot for there. It’s not all it’s not a hard number that you have to have, you have to get to and it is it’s about a hundred and thirty three thousand dollars. It’s easier to get folks on to va aid in attendance than it is to get people on to Medicaid, obviously because the dollar amounts are higher. The issue with the VA that I have is that the va payments themselves are limited. Their right around twenty three hundred dollars right now for six bedroom and a six spouse can get up to about one two hundred per month. So I usually use them in conjunction with each other. I can’t. Don’t you still get yourself a security on top of it, though? Yes, you do. You have served with Medicaid they take all but about fifty bucks. Exactly, exactly right. With Medicaid. They expect you to pay every little bit of your income first and then they will pay the difference. Is correct the intendence. It’s basically just a direct deposit into your comment and then required to pay the caregiver for the House to your placement. Stay right and and I know with aid an attendance, I believe you have to have meet two of the seven what we call activities of daily living needs. So you know there are criterias for I’m in attendance benefits, but in certainly working with you I’m you can help families go the right direction, depending on what that happens, but so many of our seniors today likely qualify. And the other question that I have, and you can probably answer this, is what if that spouse has passed away but they served in the military? ANCEL question. If the veteran spouse is passed away, the surviving spouse can still apply for those benefits. They can still apply and get those benefits. So that’s something that and again I run into an issue where a lot of times people feel hesitant to try to apply for them and believe that that’s not the case. This is something that your spouse has earned by serving in the armed forces. Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. And and then I just really to come in. I you know, you obviously help families monitor because things change. Is that right? So do you find that goals change? Absolutely well, I would say that the overarching goals don’t change unless something drastic hand happens within the family. Die And man if, all of a sudden, let’s say, a child ends up becoming dependent upon drugs or alcohol or something, then the families plan really changes. What I find more often is that the overall plan will stay the same. My job becomes once people sign up and once we’ve created a plan for them. My job is to stay in touch as the as the environment changes around their plan. Absolutely, as the laws change, as it looks like there might be legislation that’s coming down the pike that might end up, you know, affecting what it was that we’ve done, as new options come up that might help them a chief that achieve their goals better. As those types of changes occur in the environment around them. It’s my job then to introduce them to those to see if now they want to go in and tweak things a little bit. Absolutely, absolutely, and certainly we want to make sure that you know that they’re that the goals are matching and for what a family’s values are, what they want according to their wishes, and so obviously you help to help them determine those in your seminars. Tell us a little bit about your your seminars. Absolutely, and so we’d like, I said, on a monthly basis. We do a state retirement planning seminars and what I do is I talk to people about a new way to really approach retirement planning, and one it’s really about looking at things from more than just a legal perspective. I think what’s what’s really goes wrong a lot of times with people when they are doing their planning is they will just kind of plan in silos. For their legal just make a will and a power of attorney. For their housing thoughts, they’ll just say, okay, I just want to have a home that’s paid for and no mortgage, you know. For their healthcare, it’s just I want to make sure I’m on Medicare. And what happens is when you plan like that, nothing really communicates. So you the legal plan that you have set up doesn’t doesn’t coincide with your housing plan. Sure doesn’t make sense. I’ll have I’ll have people call me and say I want to stay in my home until the very end and, you know, I say, well, you live in a beautiful five story home. You know, how possible is that? Right? So that kind of be able to being able to think about all of those different nuances and sometimes it is just bringing in an outside party. Really had to let in those goals, babuls. And how do we reach you, Philm? You can reach me at your you can call me on the phone. Three six hud seven, six seven one sixty nine or you can reach me at www dot safe harbor legal solutionscom and you can always see me on zoom. Well, we are very excited to have you here on the show and Philip will be back in the next segment and we’re going to talk about so why do a state plans fail? What are the things that you may be doing that maybe a recipe for just disaster down the road, and so we’re going to talk a little bit about those things in our next segment when feel comes back. Right after this. We at answers for elders. Thank you for listening. Did you know that you can discover hundreds of podcasts in our library on senior care? So visit our website and discover our decision guys. That will help you also navigate decision making. Find us at https://answersforelders.com/
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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