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You’ve worked hard to give your family financial stability, and you want your savings to bring you all a better life. Perhaps you plan to pay for a grandchild’s educational costs or travel the world with your spouse. Don’t let the looming costs of possible long-term care get in the way.
As you plan your estate, the potential need for long-term care is one of the most challenging variables. If your health declines, you may require the care provided in a skilled nursing facility or by a dedicated medical professional in your home. It is hard to predict whether or not you will ever need such care, but if you do need it, the cost can be enormous.
Long-term care costs are skyrocketing; a single year in a Florida nursing home can cost as much as $100,000. Medical advances have improved life expectancy, but they’ve also increased the average chance that people will require long-term care in their lifetimes.
Regardless of your current state of health, you cannot safely ignore long-term care considerations when you make legal and financial plans to enjoy your retirement and leave a legacy to your heirs. Fortunately, there are ways to plan for the potential need while still protecting your family’s assets.
Many families rely on Medicaid for long-term care, as it is the only publicly funded option available. However, there are strict income and asset limits for Medicaid eligibility. In 2015, only individuals with less than $2,000 in countable assets qualify. As a result, it is often necessary for families to spend down a certain amount of their resources on qualifying medical expenses in order to reach the Medicaid eligibility limits.
People interpret this requirement to mean that they must pay for all their care themselves or spend all of their savings down to the poverty line before they can qualify.
That is simply not true. You should never pay for healthcare that could be covered under Medicaid. Certain assets are exempt from the limits, and other assets can be protected through the use of trusts. Spousal refusal, trusts, gifting programs and other choices can help.
Still, the rules for Medicaid eligibility are complex and ever-changing, so protecting your family’s wealth is not simply a matter of transferring assets to another family member. Medicaid also has a “look-back” period prior to the application, where certain transfers of assets will be subject to a penalty. An elder law attorney can help you protect what you’ve earned for your family while navigating the twisting paths of options.
There are a number of strategies you can use to take the best advantage of your right to public benefits while protecting your family’s wealth. The key factors are to prepare well ahead of time, and to take advantage of the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney.
Families may also wish to consider insurance options to address long-term care needs.
Life insurance can be an important way to provide for your family after your passing, but you may wish to consider disability insurance and long-term care insurance as well.
Disability insurance can help cover income gaps if a disability prevents you from working for an extended period of time, while long-term care insurance can provide for care in a home, hospital or skilled nursing facility. Disability and long-term care insurance is indispensable for a great many families, but it can seem prohibitively costly upfront. There is no reason your coverage should drain your assets, and Littman Krooks’ attorneys can help maximize your policy’s potential for you.
Some families pay for costs their plan could cover, overpaying by thousands in just a few years. Others buy more coverage than is sensible for their situations, losing more than they gain in the process. Sometimes, the cost of certain coverage can be prohibitively high or does not promise enough care to justify the expense at all. We can offer a steady, helping hand and an expert perspective to protect your health and your assets at the same time.
At The Parri Law Firm, we understand that every family has different needs, and we stand ready to help you accomplish your family’s unique long-term care planning goals.
The Parri Law Firm
Elder Law & Special Needs Planning