Alan D. Feller, Esq.
The Elder Law Guide To Travel
My dad was a Parrothead. The songs of Jimmy Buffett talked about cheeseburgers in paradise and wasting away in Margaritaville. This was the soundtrack for my father’s life, especially as he approached retirement. There was always one more island vacation to plan, one more cruise ship buffet to stalk. When dad’s kidneys started to fail he booked a “Dialysis at Sea” cruise. Dad’s belief was that travel is one of life’s gifts and should never be taken for granted.
As an eldercare attorney, I believe in travel’s restorative and life-affirming properties. One of the more surprising revelations for a Medicaid Home Care Recipient is that their Supplemental Needs Pooled Trust (set up to protect their monthly excess income) will cover travel expenses. Travel is considered under the law to be of direct benefit to a disabled individual.
A family that can bring multiple generations together to experience the wonder and joy of travel, while accounting for all limitations, has bestowed an amazing gift on all of its members. The importance of overcoming health related barriers to plan a trip shows everyone in the family that the good things in life do not automatically get cut off as the years advance or an illness progresses. Planning vacations for seniors with disabilities does involve solving logistical hurdles related to transport, medication, durable medical equipment and aides. The “Travelling With Disabilities Forum” on TripAdvisor.com and travel.AARP.org are intelligent starting points to gather information.
Travel is more than just sitting on a beach or touring a European capital. There are educational travel experiences for seniors – roadscholar.org being one of the more well known. Seniors are also searching out Culinary, golf and other niche vacations to broaden the scope of travel options. More mobile seniors still buy RV’s and drive the country to glory in the beauty of America, its National Parks and landscapes.
One vacation idea always resonates with me – the vacation home as family compound. For many years clients pointed out how their vacation homes on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, or Cape Cod, or in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or in the Finger Lakes would draw the entire family multiple times per year. Certain places bring out the best in people and families. Why not create something which can offer continuity and pleasure for years and be passed down to succeeding generations. When children and grandchildren move away having a fun place that they can return to is something special. Hopefully the out of state vacation home would have been placed in a Trust to avoid an ancillary probate down the road (when someone dies – property held out of state must be administered through that jurisdiction’s Surrogate’s or Probate Court unless held in trust).
A hammock, a cool drink and some Jimmy Buffett music will also do.