Monthly Archives: September 2013

Veterans Administration Pension Benefits: Aid & Attendance

Hands holding an American flag

 

For those veterans (or surviving spouses of deceased veterans) needing care due to a disability, the Veterans Administration’s Aid & Attendance pension benefit can be extremely valuable.  This benefit can help cover the cost of home care or care in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility (although it is rarely enough to cover the entire cost of care). Not surprisingly, elder law attorneys have seen an increasing number of clients interested in these benefits.

I previously published a post on the service requirements for Veterans Pension benefits.  In addition to the service requirements, the applicant (Veteran or surviving spouse of a deceased veteran) must also be permanently and totally disabled, or age 65 or older and the applicant must meet complicated financial limits (a topic for another post!).

Finally, to receive the Aid & Attendance benefit (the highest of the three VA pension levels, and the one most often sought by applicants needing care due to a disability), the applicant must show that he/she needs the regular aid and attendance of another person.  This can be shown by the following:

  • The aid of another person is needed in order to perform at least two of the following activities of daily living (“ADLs”): bathing/showering, dressing, eating, getting in/out of bed/chair, and/or toileting; or
  • The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; or
  • The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
  • The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

So, in addition to being “disabled” (i.e. either permanently and totally disabled or simply over the age of 65), the applicant must also need the aid & attendance of another in one or more of these ways.

If the applicant meets the service requirements and the requirements outlined here, the final step is meeting the (complicated) financial requirements established by the Veterans Administration.  Stay tuned for a post on those financial requirements!

CAVEAT:  This web site and the information contained herein have been prepared for educational purposes only.  The information on this blog does not constitute legal advice, which would be dependent upon the specific circumstances of a particular case.  In addition, because the law can vary from state to state some information on this site may not be applicable to you.

Image © maticsandra – Fotolia.com

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Where to keep your Last Will

Documents drawer

Now that you’ve (been responsible and) executed your Last Will, where should you store it?  This question comes up at the end of almost every estate planning case I handle.

This will be an easy blog post because there’s an easy answer:  

STORE YOUR WILL WHEREVER THE RELEVANT PEOPLE CAN EASILY FIND IT AND ACCESS IT.

We don’t generally recommend sharing the contents of your Will with your beneficiaries ahead of time, but your Executor(s) and Trustee(s) (i.e. the people you named to handle your estate/trust) should know how to access the documents.  If  your Will is stored in a safe deposit box at the bank, have you signed to allow another access? And do they know the Will is there?  If you haven’t given a third party access to your safe deposit box at the bank, a court order will be necessary.  If your Will is in your fire proof safe at home, does the necessary person have a key? And do they know it’s there?

Remember, too, that when when you sign your Last Will you will also execute a Financial Power of Attorney and Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare.  The Financial Power of Attorney allows you to name an agent or agents to handle your financial affairs on your behalf while you are still alive.  The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows you to name a health care agent to make medical decisions if you cannot, and also allows you to indicate what your treatment preferences would be if you were terminal or in a permanent vegetative state.

Often, the Financial Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Healthcare become immediately necessary because an emergency has occurred – a fall, a stroke, a hospitalization.  Knowing where these documents are stored and how to access them will make your loved ones’ lives much easier, so make sure you’ve shared that information.

One last thing – you can also store important account information and computer log-in information with your Will so that your loved ones will find that easily when they go to find your documents.

CAVEAT:  This web site and the information contained herein have been prepared for educational purposes only.  The information on this blog does not constitute legal advice, which would be dependent upon the specific circumstances of a particular case.  In addition, because the law can vary from state to state some information on this site may not be applicable to you.

Image © lucato – Fotolia.com