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  • Writer's pictureAlan D. Feller, Esq.

Elder Law Guide to Crisis Planning

Pandemic warnings have flashed before our eyes several times this century. SARS, H1N1 (Swine Flu) and H5N1 (Avian Flu) were disruptive infections that impacted a variety of populations, but failed to alter the daily activities of Americans. The spread and impact of COVID-19 is something that most of us have never experienced in our lifetimes. Long term health care planning and health care facility communications did not anticipate a crisis of this magnitude. The infrastructure to accommodate the needs of a large, seriously ill body of people was not yet in place by March of 2020. Crisis planning was very much in vogue earlier in the 2000’s and should be foremost in people’s minds going forward.

One of the lasting impressions of Covid-19 will be the lack of contact that ill family members had with their loved ones. Reliance on smartphones and video conference apps may provide enough support for the tech savvy among us, but for compromised and technologically unschooled people this is a hard pill to swallow. The people in our lives must familiarize themselves with and be equipped with the tools of modern communication. There is no excuse. We all remember the simplicity of a rotary phone. Those days are long gone. Should an isolating event occur again technology must be a bridge to connect the separated. This goes for Nursing Homes, Assisted Living facilities and hospitals as well. Investment in multi—faceted communication platforms should be a priority so each patient or resident can successfully see, speak to and share information with the important people in their lives.

There are preparations that will go a long way to easing some concerns. Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, Dispositions of Remains, Pre-Need Funeral Plans, and testamentary documents such as Wills and Trusts all serve to organize your people and assets into a cohesive structure that will operate efficiently should you get sick.

The health emergency we have experienced together has highlighted the vulnerabilities of New Yorkers who live, work and play in close proximity to others. For many years, New York State prioritized Medicaid Home Care for residents requiring long term care by not having a lookback penalty period for transfers of assets. These rules allowed chronically ill New Yorkers to stay at home and avoid a facility by protecting the interests of the middle class. As of October 1st , 2020 there will be a lookback for Medicaid Home Care. Besides forcing families to make difficult decisions earlier than expected, there will be huge financial implications for the new Medicaid rules on the heels of the COVID-19 crisis.

Crisis planning is not just about securing the materials and food required for daily living. The strength that family, friends, neighbors, professionals and health care aides provide to people suffering from illness is unmeasurable. To lose these connections is to be adrift and alone. All of us have work to do once this difficult time passes. Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller to assist with your planning.



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