November is Long-term Care Awareness Month. Statistics show that between 50%-70% of our population who reach age 65 will require long-term care at some point in their life. Losing all of one’s assets to pay for nursing home care is a legitimate concern for people. With the cost of a private room in a Kansas nursing home at approximately $70,000-$90,000 annually, it’s no wonder why senior citizens are looking for help to preserve at least some of their assets for their heirs.
Let’s review some facts about long-term care planning, specifically Medicaid planning. The purpose of Medicaid planning is to preserve your assets and set up your affairs in such a way that the State will pay the majority of your nursing home care costs, if or when the time comes. With good Medicaid planning, you should need only to contribute your income toward nursing home care costs. With Medicaid planning, the goal is to avoid selling your assets to pay for your long-term care. If you have a spouse still living at home, then Medicaid planning may also allow you to preserve income for that spouse rather than paying it to the nursing home.
When married couples consider Medicaid planning, the “best case scenario” is to retain the benefits of all their assets and still have Medicaid pay for nursing home care when the time comes. To accomplish this, all planning and funding should be completed five (5) or more years prior to one of the individuals needing full-time nursing home care. If you have less than five (5) years before an anticipated nursing home admission, other options exist to preserve assets, but those options are more limited and vary, based on circumstances.
A single person can also utilize Medicaid planning, although the percentage of assets preserved may vary, again depending on the circumstances.
Elder law generally, and Medicaid planning specifically, is a complex body of law and an area that sees frequent rule revisions. The application process can be a paperwork nightmare, so having an experienced professional to guide you through the system is advisable. You are not required to use an attorney to plan for possible nursing home admissions. However, most nursing home and social services professionals are not trained to provide sophisticated Medicaid planning advice, which can protect the greatest amount of your assets. Additionally, not just any attorney is qualified to advise you on your long-term care options. Look for an attorney specifically trained in Elder law and Medicaid planning issues to provide you with a plan of action to preserve the greatest amount of your assets, as allowed by law.
If you have questions about Medicaid or long-term care planning, contact Davis & McCann, P.A., Dodge City, Kansas at 620-225-1674. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Special Needs Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate, 1031 Exchanges, and related matters.
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