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Key Considerations for Long Term Care PlanningBlog, Trust & Estate Planning
Posted in on April 5, 2016
Creating an estate plan and planning for your legal future can seem like an overwhelming task. It forces you to think about your own mortality, and that of loved ones, among many other unpleasant topics. What many people do not realize is that a lack of planning can be even worse for you and your family. The senior citizen population in America is growing, as is the cost of caring for those seniors, both in and out of nursing homes. With proper planning, you can achieve peace of mind and tackle the looming costs of long term care.
There are three ways to pay for long term care, you private pay yourself, carry long term care insurance, or for people who qualify, Medicare, a government program, can pay for a portion of the cost. Private paying is easy and self-explanatory. Long term care insurance can be an easy solution for some, but the premiums can be costly. Qualifying for Medicaid is not always easy, but is a route that many families plan toward.
Medicaid, as previously stated, is a government program that pays for long term care for those who qualify. To qualify, single people can only have $2,000.00 and a married couple can only have a combined $121,000.00. Additionally, for married couples, if the healthy spouse is still living at home, the home is not countable toward the asset limit. One car, regardless of value, also does not count toward the asset limit.
For those seeking to qualify for Medicaid, assets cannot just be given away. Medicaid imposes a 5 year look back period on all asset transfers. This means, for example, if you gifted a child $50,000.00 Medicaid would continue to consider that $50,000.00 as asset of yours until 5 years have passed since the date of that gift.
Before you give away all your assets so that you qualify for Medicaid in 5 years, there are some other considerations, including standards of living and the cost of care that falls short of long term care. The level of care associated with long term care is the 24 hour type care that you typically see in a nursing home. Often the need for long term care does not come suddenly without warning. It is usually a gradual adding of daily care here and there that eventually adds up. The adding of daily care, through home health care agencies or assisted living facilities, may or may not be covered under long term care insurance, depending on your policy. Additionally, there are different rules, more focused on income levels, to qualify for Medicaid to pay for these types of care. Giving away all assets to qualify for Medicaid often leaves people unable to afford some daily care that falls short of nursing home level care.
While this is just a broad overview of somethings to consider when contemplating long term care planning, the estate planning attorneys at Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C., can sit with you and craft and estate plan that meets your needs and goals. We make a comprehensive review of your assets and explain to you how various types of estate planning (wills, irrevocable trusts, life estates, etc.) can affect your planning goals, as well as taking into consideration tax and Probate Court implications. Contact Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro today for your Confidential Estate Planning Questionnaire that will get you started in our estate planning process. – Elizabeth Caruso