Today, the population of individuals over the age of 65 in California numbers approximately 4.5 million people. By the year 2050, it will exceed 11 million. These numbers are even more consequential when we consider the portion of the entire state’s population represented by older individuals:
About 11% of today’s 40 million Californians are 65 or older. By 2020, that population will be 15%. By 2030, it will be almost 20% and a staggering 22.3% by 2050. What are the implications of this?
A recent column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee warns about the aging of health care providers in California. The column astutely warns that we have an aging population that will present unprecedented demands for services and support from our medical and caregiving infrastructures. Even today there is a shortage of trained, capable caregivers through home care agencies, at assisted living facilities, and in skilled nursing facilities. It will only get worse in the future. It is a looming crisis for all who need long-term care facilities and services.
“To rise to this challenge,” suggests estate planning and elder law attorney Michael Gilfix of Palo Alto, California, “we need a new, coordinated, multigenerational approach.” His focus is on the need for more coordination of services and more tailored, focused use of limited family resources. Careful planning to preserve assets and qualify for Medi-Cal, the only program that can pay all or most of the cost of skilled nursing care, must be part of the planning. Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, is needs-based. To qualify, assets must be limited and/or carefully organized.
This approach is necessary, Gilfix suggests, because there must always be a financial safety net. If all family assets are exhausted before Medi-Cal coverage is obtained, there are no funds available to pay for services that are not covered by the Medi-Cal program.
Children and grandchildren must be viewed as part of the planning and part of the solution. They must participate, coordinate resources, add counsel, and devote time and attention to the needs of their elders. It is self-evident that this is typically a win-win for everyone, but it is rarely done.
Such planning is more typically pursued by wealthier families through the use of “family offices,” but the need is no less critical for the middle class. Middle class families have the power to preserve their homes, their savings, and their legacies. But they must take steps to plan ahead of time.
Attorneys Michael Gilfix and Mark Gerson Gilfix recently co-authored an article entitled, “A New Paradigm: Truly Multigenerational Planning,” published in the September issue of Trusts & Estates magazine, that expands this concept in very practical ways. Gilfix & La Poll Associates, one of the nation’s leading estate planning firms, follows this approach with its clients. For multigenerational planning to be effective, it is critical that steps are taken before the crisis stage.
The Gilfix & La Poll Team
Pioneers of Elder Law — For over 30 years, Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP has innovated creative legal solutions to help you manage and plan the future of your estate. To contact an estate planning lawyer visit www.gilfix.com or call 800.244.9424.