On January 29, 2024, the Minnesota Department of Human Services launched the much-anticipated Assisted Living Report Card. The information will help families when they are investigating assisted living options for their loved ones and will enable families to search for a facility by name or by geographic area. This will help provide families with a centralized location to begin their search for an assisted living facility while gathering objective information about whether the facility can support a loved one with dementia, and to know how the facility performs on certain key indicators, such as quality of life, resident health, safety, and staffing. While the database is continuing to gather information, the Assisted Living Report Card site will provide families with a solid starting point when they begin their search for an assisted living facility in Minnesota.
For families who are beginning the journey and find themselves in need of assistance or guidance, our elder law attorneys at Henningson & Snoxell can provide valuable insight into the process and provide resources to help with covering care costs. Contact us today!
Holidays can be a difficult time for families. Gathering around the dinner table often brings stress, especially if there are concerns regarding money and aging parents. Well-meaning children may bring up ideas on how Mom and Dad can avoid “giving everything to the nursing home” by giving assets to the children. I urge families to proceed with caution. Planning for incapacity and long-term care should be a longer discussion with legal and financial professionals involved to ensure that aging loved ones are protected from unintended consequences.
Long-term care planning is a complex process dealing not only with tax consequences but also possible eligibility issues regarding financial assistance for long-term care. Generally speaking, Medical Assistance prohibits giving gifts of any amount within five years of application for assistance.
Let’s look at an example. Grandma gives each of her five grandchildren $10,000 for Christmas each year for four years. On the fifth year, she finds herself in need of long-term care but without sufficient assets, so she applies for Medical Assistance. Unless the $200,000 in gifts given to the grandkids over the past five years is returned to Grandma, she will be ineligible for Medical Assistance for nearly two years. This is called a penalty period. It is calculated by taking the amount of the gift and dividing it by the Statewide Average Payment for Skilled Nursing Facility (a/k/a SAPSNF). This number is updated every July based on the monthly average cost for care in a nursing home in Minnesota.
There are some options to protect or gift assets, but such strategies should be coordinated by an elder law attorney, the person’s financial advisor, and tax advisors. An elder law attorney who is well-versed in the rules regarding Medical Assistance can work with families to plan a legacy while ensuring that the long-term care needs of the elderly loved one are kept at the forefront.
Planning for Incapacity is also best accomplished with the aid of professionals. Handwritten powers of attorney and health care directives may be valid on their faces, but they can create significant headaches if there are questions regarding the individual’s capacity to execute such documents. This is especially true when concerns of financial exploitation arise. When a healthcare directive or power of attorney is called into question because of a person’s incapacity to execute new documents, the parties must go to court in a guardianship and/or conservatorship proceeding. These are expensive and oftentimes contentious proceedings costing tens of thousands of dollars and splitting families apart in the process.
If you think a family member might need to enter an assisted living or long-term care facility, pick the right time and place to discuss it. Many aging loved ones are fiercely protective of their independence and autonomy. Conversations regarding safety risks of remaining in the home need to be approached respectfully and carefully. This promotes a more productive conversation and a higher likelihood of finding solutions that balance safety concerns with our loved ones’ wishes. Proactive discussions and support can go a long way toward preventing a need for emergency interventions. Elder law attorneys can assist families with navigating tough conversations. They provide an objective outside perspective and practical knowledge of what the next phases of life might look like. At a time when a family may be overwhelmed and not quite sure what the future looks like, an elder law attorney can help you plot a course for the future while keeping the peace in the family.
There is a side to gun ownership that is not often discussed: what happens when a gun owner is no longer capable of safely owning or using his or her guns?
It is tragic when an individual with dementia ends up shooting a loved one.
Individuals who develop dementia frequently experience hallucinations or have times where they do not recognize the people around them. This can be especially problematic if the individual has access to guns. The individual may incorrectly believe someone they know is a stranger and that he or she needs to defend themselves. It is tragic when such an individual ends up shooting a loved one. In West Virginia, a grandfather with dementia thought he saw intruders entering his home, so he grabbed his Glock that he kept under his pillow and shot his wife and granddaughter. The granddaughter was able to call for help, but the grandmother did not survive.
Unfortunately, this can and does happen not only in other states but also right here in Minnesota. For families of loved ones with dementia, we commonly grapple with the question of when to take the car away. Families should also discuss when the guns should be removed from the home or stored in a secure location for safety purposes. This is a difficult conversation and the loved one may be in the denial stage of dementia. In situations like this, families may need to involve the courts to initiate a proceeding to have the individual’s guns confiscated.
Decide what to do with your firearms.
To prevent court intervention, families should engage in the conversations early on in an individual’s diagnosis so that the individual can be involved in deciding what to do with the firearms, to whom the firearms should go after they pass, or whether to voluntarily give them up. For caretakers and family members, it is best to get this plan in writing and signed by the person when there is a voluntary relinquishment of the firearms. This will be helpful in the future should the individual forget about the arrangement and make accusations that someone stole the guns.
Families may be forced to deal with this situation before they can bring caregivers or home health into the home. Such agencies have policies that require that any firearms or weapons in the home be removed before their employees can come to the home. By having a plan in place and removing the guns before there is a need for home health care or in-home assistance, families can avoid additional stress.
If your family has a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, be sure to speak with physicians, elder law attorneys, or care coordinators to help you understand the ins and outs of what is to come.
Our elder law concierge service at Henningson & Snoxell provides family with a personal touch to help navigate the chaos that comes with a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. Please reach out to see how we can help you and your family through this challenging time.
Rachell Henning is an Elder Law attorney that brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her practice. From an early age, Rachell has been dedicated to assisting elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest.
We recently received a heartwarming letter from a client regarding her experience working with Elder Law Attorney Rachell Henning:
“I need to share with you my experience working with Lawyer Extraordinaire, Rachell Henning.
“I came upon your firm (recommended through one of my dementia list servs), and immediately wrote to you. Rachell Henning responded to that email the very next day, and I feel that I was being watched over from above, because there is no doubt in my mind that the perfect lawyer was give to me to help me through the emergencies of the past few months. She works tirelessly, and has been there for every single question I have had. Her quick responses are not something I’m used to!
“Rachell Henning has truly been a gift to our family. She has worked so hard to learn all the various aspects of my brother’s diagnosis, along with the multiple layers involved in getting him the care he needs. She was also extremely helpful in finding a person to serve as my brother’s emergency guardian.
“The amount of stress that I was feeling trying to do all of this care myself for over two years, has started to melt away, and I feel unbelievably lucky that the email came to me recommending your firm, and having Ms. Henning reach out to me. She has been everything, and more, that I ever hoped to have in a lawyer!”
As an associate at Henningson & Snoxell, Rachell Henning brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her practice as an elder law attorney. From an early age, Rachell has been dedicated to assisting elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest. Read more about Rachell.
Planning for long-term care is an
emotional and overwhelming task. It is
difficult to accept aging and even more difficult to accept that at some point
in our lives we will be dependent on others for help doing things we find easy
to do today. For most of us, talking
about death is difficult, but I have found that talking about long-term care is
even more taboo. For many of our elderly
loved ones, mine included, their biggest fear is being “thrown into a nursing
Adult children with elderly parents are experiencing stress like never before.
They are often caught between raising their own children, working demanding jobs, and navigating their aging parents’ complicated situations and needs.
Our firm offers a service that is specifically designed to assist busy adult children with their parents’ elder law issues. Our Elder Law Concierge Service is a full-service solution that involves hands-on, compassionate assistance by attorney and paralegal staff. Whether helping Dad get the care he needs after hip surgery, researching living and care options when Mom is no longer able to live independently, or working with staff to assess Mom’s needs and gaining her admission at a facility, we can help. We will help you determine the resources that are available and the process for obtaining them. We combine legal and practical knowledge to take a collaborative approach to gathering information and evaluating options. We focus not only on asset protections and legal capacity planning, but on dignity and quality of life.
We take the time to get to know your family and what is important to you.
We learn the nuances of family dynamics and try to anticipate problems that may arise. If problems do arise, we quickly address the issue. Having us in place as counselors and advisors will minimize the stress and burden on family members. We also establish relationships with service providers to create a network of support for our clients. This collaborative approach to assisting clients and their families creates a feeling of personal connection in a world where isolation is the new norm.
If your family is experiencing a stressful time because a loved one needs help at home or needs care at an assisted living or nursing care facility, don’t hesitate to call us. Let us take something off your plate. Leave the legwork to us.
In Minnesota, Medicaid is called “Medical Assistance” or “MA”. Under that umbrella, there are several different programs, but the one that we most often work with at Henningson & Snoxell is Medical Assistance for Long-Term Care Services (MA-LTC).
Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. is pleased to welcome Attorney Rachell Henning to the firm. Rachell is a member of the firm’s individual legal services department, with primary practice areas in Conservatorships, Guardianships, Disability Law, and other areas of Elder Law.
Rachell managed a residential home for individuals with disabilities early in her career. While there, she advocated for the people she served. She worked closely with families and staff to ensure the residents received proper services. She worked alongside county financial workers, social workers, and others who handled eligibility decisions surrounding Medical Assistance and other state-run programs. Rachell built relationships with those individuals to understand the administrative end, and she is able to use this experience to advocate for her clients.
While attending law school, Rachell worked full-time as a Human Resource and Office Administrator at one of the largest law firms in South Dakota. She gained invaluable experience managing benefits, working with insurance companies, and assisting employees of all ages. She especially enjoyed working with older employees as they planned their retirement, helping them navigate the many complex decisions that retirement entailed.