Most people find themselves in need of long-term care at some point in their life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care. Unfortunately, not everyone has a plan to pay for it.
There are three ways to pay for long-term care. If you plan early enough, you can buy long-term care insurance. If you have sufficient savings, you can pay for the care yourself. And if you can’t afford long-term care and don’t have long-term care insurance, there are several government programs that may help pay for your care. But it is far from guaranteed that you will qualify.
Many of our clients are shocked to find that neither Medicare nor private health insurance will pay for assisted living or long-term stays in nursing homes. Others have serious misunderstandings about eligibility rules for government programs, such as Medicaid, Special Assistance or VA Aid and Attendance. It is difficult to qualify for these programs, and each program has different rules. With the number of seniors in N.C. projected to double between 2010 and 2030, qualifying for these programs is likely to become more difficult.
If you are in the pro-active planning stage, we can help you create an estate plan that considers the cost of long-term care. There are a number of tools that we can use to protect you and your family. For instance, we often add supplemental needs trusts to your Will to protect your spouse. We can also add enhanced powers to your power of attorney to ensure that certain types of emergency planning can be completed when you are not capable of doing so yourself. If a family member is helping care for you in exchange for payment, we may be able to use a Caregiver Agreement to keep those payments from negatively affecting Medicaid eligibility in the future. We often use irrevocable trusts in pre-planning case. In many cases were are able to protect your home, your family farm, or a “safety net” of cash for your children.
We can also help if you or a loved one are faced with an immediate need to pay for a nursing home or assisted living facility. Without competent legal assistance, a nursing home stay can literally cost you your life savings. But there are ways to protect some of your assets. We can determine which assets can be protected, and how to best use your remaining assets. We can also assist you with applying for benefits.
You need a plan to pay for long-term care. Your need may be today or it may be many years in the future. Either way, we are here to help.
The links below have more specific information about specific concerns and planning strategies.