Precise Answers To FAQ On Long-Term Care Planning
As we age, seniors are faced with a variety of issues that must be addressed. One very important issue is planning for your own long-term care. Long-term care, whether in a nursing home or an assisted living center, can be expensive. When planning for long-term care, you need crucial insight from a skilled and experienced attorney.
Since 1976, Walker Law Group, L.L.C., has guided thousands of clients in estate planning issues and matters concerning long-term care.
Q: What is the cost of long-term care?
A: As you may know, long-term care is not inexpensive. Typically, the monthly cost of long-term care — which may include in-home care, assisted living centers and nursing homes — can range from $4,500 to $8,000. The average age of a person entering a long-term care facility is 79 and often much younger. We can help you formulate an effective plan addressing protection of your assets from long-term care costs. Remember, private health insurance and Medicare do not cover assisted living or nursing home costs.
Q: What is the five-year rule for Medicaid?
A: The “five-year rule” is in place to discourage people from transferring assets by gift or trust in order to become eligible for Medicaid long-term care benefits. When you apply for Medicaid long-term care benefits, the government will “look back” and review all asset transfers that you have made in the five years before you submitted your application. If you made a gift or created a trust during those five years and otherwise qualify, you will be subject to a penalty period of reduced Medicaid benefits. A gift made during the five-year look-back period does not automatically disqualify you from eligibility for benefits. It could simply mean that you will be subject to a period of reduced benefits. This is why we often tell clients already in a nursing home to “forget” the five-year rule. Let the experienced team at Walker Law Group, L.L.C., review your particular circumstances to determine if you may still qualify for full or partial long-term care benefits even though you made a gift within the five-year look-back period.
Q: If I did not do any planning five years ago, is there still hope?
A: Yes. Regardless of your situation, don’t assume you won’t qualify. However, the best advice we can give you is this: Start planning now. No one knows what the future will bring. The sooner you start preparing for your golden years, the fewer surprises there are likely to be. A little planning now can make a big difference for you and your loved ones in the future.
Q: What assets are exempt from Medicaid long-term care qualification?
A: In determining your assets for qualification limits, the value of your home is usually not counted. The home would be exempt for reasons that include if you intend to return to it and if your spouse continues to reside in home, as well as if the occupants include minor children or children with special needs. However, after you die, even if your home was exempt for benefit qualification, the state will be reimbursed ahead of your heirs from your home for all long-term care benefits paid on your behalf. In other words, one way or the other, you could lose your home to pay for nursing home costs. Other assets that are not counted toward Medicaid long-term care qualification limits include one car, personal property such as clothing, appliances and furniture, certain home improvements and prepaid funeral expenses.
Q: How does a trust affect long-term care?
A: A properly drafted trust can protect your home and other assets from having to be used to pay for nursing home care. By creating a specially worded Medicaid qualification trust, you can protect your assets from nursing home payments and maintain eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits without having to give them away. Assets held in a properly drafted trust will not be counted as available assets when you apply for Medicaid long-term care benefits. However, just like giving assets away for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid long-term care benefits, you must create your trust well in advance of a future look-back period. Unlike giving your assets away, a properly drafted trust allows you to maintain complete control of your assets and receive all income from your assets.
Founding attorney H. Gregory Walker Jr. is compassionate, knowledgeable and experienced in helping clients shelter their assets from the high cost of long-term care. If you would like to learn more about how to prepare for the future, we encourage you to attend one of our free educational seminars.
Contact A Dependable Attorney
Walker Law Group, L.L.C., is prepared to answer your questions related to long-term care. A reliable attorney, clients have been depending on Mr. Walker’s expertise in law for more than 40 years. Contact us online or by calling 318-445-4516.