Saturday, February 18, 2012

Old and broke. AgingOptions offers an alternative

Because he's Indian-born, Rajiv Nagaich has a unique perspective on American life and how families manage late-in-life planning. An attorney in Seattle, Nagaich (pron. nah-geesh) has built his practice by offering what he calls "holistic elder care" services. This is way more than writing wills and trust documents and setting up power-of-attorney directives.
Drawing from his own experiences, Nagaich wants his clients to have an end-of-life plan that makes emotional and financial sense. In other words, a plan that outlines a step-by-step process for how you want things to go when you no longer can manage your own affairs.
Nagaich's passion for elder care sprang from his frustrating experience of watching his American-born wife try to help her mother and her father who contracted Alzheimers disease. The cost of years of institutional care for the father left the parents at the end of their lives with no assets, living on Social Security and Medicaid.There are better ways to manage these situations, Nagaich tells his clients. Families must step beyond traditional planning to something he calls a "LifePlan" that helps people avoid institutional care, protects assets from probate and estate taxes and from uncovered long-term care and medical costs.
"All of my clients deal with estate planning issues," Nagaich says at his Web site "The majority of my clients who have planned their estates have done so under the traditional notion of estate planning which, unfortunately, leaves them largely exposed to the threat of uncovered long-term care costs."
Based on my own experience with my aging mother in Idaho, I'd say Nagaich is right. We do a great job of making plans for everything until we become incapacitated and must make tough decisions about where we will home or in a care facility...and how we will pay for it.
Last Monday, I sat in on a free seminar in Bellevue, Wash. presented by Nagaich, who also hosts a weekly radio show on KTTH 770-AM in Seattle. I learned plenty about Medicare and Medicaid regulations and how there are ways, if you're married, that you can set up estate planning that protects core assets from the costs of long-term care. As usual it's better if you're married than if you're single.
Too often, says Nagaich, the care givers in our lives: our physician, our estate-planning attorney and our financial advisers are not talking to each other. And none of them look at the end-of-life situations many people face because we are living longer in ill-health, incapacitated by stroke, heart disease or dementia.
The time to address how you want to spend your last years is now, before there's a crisis. The time to address these issues is now while you are mentally and physically able to put a plan in place that you and family agree about.
As with all my reports here at, I am presenting AgingOptions as another resource to explore. The message from Nagaich got me thinking. He's right, we do a lot of planning except for how it will go when we get really old and start draining money from our savings, relying on family for help and turn to expensive institutional care because we think that's our only choice. AgingOptions suggests there's a better way.

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