From the Desk of Darlynn Morgan, Orange County Will Lawyer

As an Orange County will lawyer, I help seniors and their families make smart decisions regarding their end-of-life wishes and long-term care on regular basis.

And because of my experience in this area, I understand that the options facing seniors and their loved can be VERY expensive and overwhelming at times.

Not to mention, there’s never a good time to talk to a senior about moving into an assisted living facility, nor is mom or dad ever happy about relinquishing their last bit of independence into the hands of a nursing home.

Yet that’s why it’s extremely important for seniors (and their kids) to do their due diligence and proactively plan ahead to ensure they can qualify (or even afford) a facility that best meets their ongoing medical and long-term care needs.

Of course in the 21st century there are many options as far as retirement communities are concerned.  These options include independent retirement communities, assisted independent communities, at-home assisted living, at-home nursing care, live-in nursing homes, and the list just continues.

All these options may feel overwhelming at first, but there are a number of tips and tools that your family can rely on in their quest to weed out the good long-term care facilities from the bad.

In fact, US News and World Report recently published an article listing nine key things to consider when searching for an assisted living facility.  The tips they gave were extremely valuable, and for that reason I’ve summarized them here below:

  1. Reflect on the values of you or your loved one. Figure out what is important in your life and make sure that it is going to be incorporated in your living arrangements.
  2. Consider your future needs. Are you or your loved one going to require more assistance later on? What about when your mobility changes? Do you have any kind of progressive illness? The answers to these questions will help you find a place that is just right for your current and future needs.
  3. Make sure that the facility is licensed. You need to make sure that it is up to par with your state’s assisted living regulations. Go to and search by zip code.
  4. Assess the financial stability of the facility. Let’s face it – in these times of financial straits, it’s a real possibility that the facility that you are looking into has expanded beyond its capabilities. If it’s not financially stable, it is probably not the place for you.
  5. Get referrals.  Talk to other people that are looking for retirement options. Contact your agency on aging.  Find out where everyone else is going.
  6. Ask if there is a waiting list. More than likely, for the good places, there will be. This is another reason to start early – don’t wait until you need a place to go. Plan ahead.
  7. Visit a few times. That means one scheduled tour and then a couple pop-in visits.  Take note of what is the facility like when you show up unannounced. Try to make one of your surprise visits at night, too, to see what it’s like when the day staff leaves.
  8. Talk with current residents. This is pretty self-explanatory: who will know the facility better and be more willing to tell the truth than the residents?
  9. Get a copy of the contract and review it with a lawyer. I know this sounds tedious but this will help you avoid being thrown a curve ball later on when you decide to move in. If there are parts of the contract you aren’t sure about, you can talk to the facility and see what you can work out.

As you can see, these 9 key considerations provide a great starting point for families seeking nursing home or assisted living care in California.   Yet finding a facility is only half the battle as you’ll also need to consider the costs and mounting expenses that accompany any long-term stay

Contrary to popular belief, seniors do NOT have to forfeit their assets and everything they’ve worked so hard for to qualify for Medi-Cal (or Medicaid).  Instead, an Orange County Will lawyer can help you implement a number of tools designed to proactively shield your assets (or your parent’s assets) without jeopardizing eligibility for federal assistance down the road.

Yet these tools all depend on the senior’s personal situation,  how soon they will need nursing home or assisted living care and their own actions over the past few years (especially if they’ve ‘gifted’ their assets away improperly or without the help of an attorney!).

But if you are currently at the place of planning for long-term care, I encourage you to call an Orange County Will Lawyer before any binding decisions are made.  Here at Morgan Law Group, we’ve made the process easier than ever by offering seniors (or children of seniors) a FREE Family Wealth Planning Session (normally $750) with the mention of this article.

Together in this session we will review your current situation (or plan if you have one), your assets and your end-of-life wishes to determine whether or not you and your family are truly protected should something unexpectedly happen.  I will also teach you how to maximize your assets and inheritance without sacrificing the ability to qualify for Medi-Cal in the future.

Simply call (949) 260-1400 and mention this article to redeem your free session.  These appointments are limited to 10 sessions per month so call today!