DIY Elder Law Planning: Just Don’t Do It

I love everything DIY (or Do-It-Yourself, for the uninitiated). Give me can of spray paint and a Pinterest DIY Board or blog post, and I’ll be entertained for hours. However, some tasks just don’t lend themselves to DIY. In terms of home repairs, electrical work comes to mind: as accomplished as I feel fixing up our home, it’s probably not worth violating building codes or burning down the house. Needless to say, my husband would not be pleased.

Unfortunately, I have a number of clients come see me when DIY long-term care planning goes awry. Even estate planning attorneys, who prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc., feel appropriately nervous ‘dabbling’ in areas such as Medicaid and VA Pension planning. It is so important to work with someone who has a solid understanding of the effect any care planning will have on a person’s eligibility for Veterans or Medicaid benefits, as well as the tax, legal, insurance, and practical implications.

Families rarely realize that their plans for an aging relative – which make perfect practical sense – could have a negative impact on the relative’s eligibility for government benefits down the road. Often, the problems are not highlighted until the person’s assets are running low and these benefits become increasingly important.

The bottom line? If you are doing any planning for the care of an elderly or disabled relative, especially, if such care involves the management and/or transfer of assets, consult a knowledgeable elder law attorney first. But if you want to spray paint some vintage furniture? Grab your can of spray paint and DIY-away!

Image © cobracz

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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