Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esq., is an associate attorney with the law firm O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C. Ms. Hobbs focuses her practice in elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, estate and trust administration, and Veteran’s benefits.  Ms. Hobbs is accredited as a United States Veterans Administration Attorney. She is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA). She is an active member of the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA). She serves on the PBA Charitable Organizations Committee and the PBA Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities Committee. She is also a member of the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2013-2014. As an elder law attorney Ms. Hobbs is able to provide exceptional legal guidance while also understanding the sensitivity and compassion needed for assisting families in a time of crisis. Ms. Hobbs resides in Phoenixville with her husband and two children.

Phone: 610-323-2800
Fax: 610-323-2845
Email: rhobbs@owmlaw.com

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The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.

Planning Ahead: Why Your Estate Plan
Should Be More Than a Simple Will

According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, the median annual cost for a private room in a Pennsylvania nursing home is $99,280. In the greater Philadelphia region, the cost is even higher, at $120,633 annually (http://www.phca.org/research/long-term-care-statistics.htm). It is easy to see how the high cost of nursing homes can quickly deplete one’s life savings. Many people have misperceptions on how an individual pays for long-term care. Surprisingly, many are not aware that Medicare does not pay for long-term care. An individual needing nursing home care (who does not have long-term care insurance), must pay either privately with their own funds or they must qualify for Medicaid.

Medicaid is an income and need based program that pays for nursing home care. There are specific income and asset requirements that an individual or couple must meet before becoming eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Whenever discussing long-term care with a family, without hesitation the most common worry expressed by families is the fear that they will lose the family home and the assets that they have worked their whole life to acquire to pay for nursing home care. I would like to say that this fear is not warranted. The truth is that this fear is very valid. However, if you plan ahead you can protect from this fear becoming a reality.

There are distinctively two stages in long-term care planning, the first stage we refer to as pre-planning. This is the stage where you anticipate that one day there may come a time where you or your spouse may need to receive care in your home or community based care, or you may require the care that is received in a skilled nursing care facility. This stage of planning may include the use of a trust. There are many types of trusts and not one-size fits all. Depending on the reason and purpose for establishing a trust, the trust may look and be very different.

The second stage is crisis planning. Typically, when you or your spouse are in a crisis stage of planning you are either preparing to enter or have already entered a skilled nursing home facility and need Medicaid. It is important to understand that planning before the crisis occurs is key to maximizing the asset protection that an elder law attorney can assist you with. Should you find yourself in the crisis situation and you have not done any pre-planning, don’t worry we can still help you.

Regardless of which stage of planning you are in (pre-planning or crisis), there are three key documents that you need. The three key documents are:

(1) Advance Medical Directive;
(2) Financial Power of Attorney; and
(3) Last Will and Testament.

An Advance Medical Directive is a document which contains two components, both a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. This document allows you to appoint an agent to make decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. The Living Will component of this document allows for you to express your wishes with regard to end of life decisions and decisions regarding artificial life sustaining treatment.

A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to manage your financial assets in the event you become incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, there may be a need to proceed with a guardianship through the Orphans’ Court. This proceeding can be expensive and time-consuming.

A Last Will and Testament allows you to direct who is going to receive your property upon your death, and allows you to select an executor. The executor is the person who will manage the estate administration process.

The high cost of long-term care cannot be ignored. You must plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are entering a nursing home or already there. If you are in a crisis, consult with an elder law attorney. The rules for Medicaid qualification are tricky, and there is still planning we can do to protect your assets.

For more information regarding this topic or to schedule a consultation, please call me at 610-323-2800 or email me at rhobbs@owmlaw.com. Also, please watch OWM's November 2013 Legal Talk program regarding "Planning Ahead: Why Your Estate Plan Should Be More Than a Simple Will" on our website here.

Upcoming Events

David A. Megay, Esq. and James C. Kovaleski, Esq., speaking at SCORE Business Planning Seminar on 1/6/14 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).

Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., and Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esq., speaking at the 2013 Senior Health Expo on 11/14/13, 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Sunnybrook Ballroom, 50 Sunnybrook Road, Pottstown, PA.

Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., speaking at New Hanover AARP meeting at New Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2941 Lutheran Road, Gilbertsville, PA, on 11/18/13 at 12:30 pm. (Contact New Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Church at 610-326-1335).

Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website here.

Read Legal Ease every first and third Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury

O'Donnell,Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

41 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Fax: 610-323-2845

347 Bridge Street, Suite 200
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Fax: 610-917-9348