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Estate planning can help avoid negative outcomes

Many Philadelphia residents provide full-time care for elderly family members. Doing so is truly a labor of love and an act of selflessness that is admirable. It is important for family members to understand the full ramifications of caring for a loved one and the dangers of doing so without adequate estate planning.

An example of this involves a man who has spent the last six years providing live-in care for his elderly mother. As her condition worsened, her son stood by her to help keep her comfortable at home instead of placing her in a facility where the care would be impersonal. When it was recently determined that the woman required full-time residential medical care, the difficult decision was made to move her into a nursing home.

Because the family had not taken preventative measures, the woman's home became subject to seizure by the state. The property will eventually be sold in order to help cover the cost of the woman's care. As a result, her son will soon be rendered homeless. He is unable to remain living within the family home, and he has no right to sell the property or otherwise profit from his mother's investment.

Had the family taken a more proactive approach, the home could have been passed on to the son years ago. That would have ensured that the home would stay within the family, but it also would have helped the elderly mother qualify for Medicaid. As it stands, the son will soon face the loss of his home and the prospect of re-entering the workforce after a six-year absence.

This story serves as a cautionary tale for Philadelphia families who continue to postpone estate planning. The process does more than simply determine how assets are to be divided in the event of death; it also gives families options on how to plan for the possibility of residential nursing care. In a way, planning ahead is just as powerful an act of love as caring for an aging loved one.   

Source: wcpo.com, "Mom enters nursing home, son to become homeless", John Matarese, Oct. 27, 2015

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