Misha Charles Pride, an elder care attorney who runs his own practice in Portland, offers five tips, in order of importance, that Maine baby boomers can follow regarding estate planning:
1. Purchase long-term care insurance.
“That’s No. 1, by far,” Pride said. “If you want to have wealth passed on, you need to have long-term care insurance. It’s really, really important to protect yourself, and to protect any wealth that you want to pass on.”
Pride acknowledges that this insurance is expensive – from a low of $5,000 up to $30,000 a year. But nursing homes charge from about $7,000 to $15,000 a month, he warns. For baby boomers in their 60s, the cost of the insurance would be on the lower end. “They’re not to the point where they’re going to be in the higher bracket,” he said. “And you can get a hybrid policy; that is, life insurance with a long-term care rider.”
2. Create an advanced-care health directive.
A Maine statute defines it as “power of attorney for health care, and health-care decision-making.”
“It allows someone to be an advocate for you in a hospital or a nursing home,” Pride said. “If you’re in there without an advocate, things can go really badly for you.”
3. Create a power of attorney for finances.
It goes hand in hand with the second suggestion.
“If you didn’t follow No. 1,” Pride said, “you might need to apply for Maine Care, and need help with that. Not only do you not have your income anymore, but your expenses are going up because you’re at home more. Financial planners can help with some of that, but medical expenses can really go off the chart.”
4. Compose a will.
Maine is not “super kind,” Pride said, with the statutory process for someone who has died without a will. “It’s not always the way you’d like to have your estate settled,” he said.
5. Do MaineCare planning.
If all else fails, meet with a lawyer who knows a lot about Medicaid, Pride said. Attention, baby boomers in your late 50s: “Do it earlier rather than later, especially if you have money to pass on,” Pride said. “Once you die, MaineCare can collect from the value of your estate, including your home. That’s something a lot of people don’t know. Act early.”
Larry Grard is a staff writer at Current Publishing.