Dementia is a frightening diagnosis for any family.
The life expectancy for an individual with dementia can vary greatly depending on the exact diagnosis but patients routinely live more than five, eight or even 12 years after they first begin to require full-time care. These numbers vary depending on the individual and advancing treatments but they give you a better idea of what you might expect should you or a family member receive a dementia diagnosis.
Even with the best of intentions to receive care at home, very few family members are equipped to provide the health and safety needs of a patient with advanced dementia. As a result, most dementia patients end up needing full-time nursing home care. Will you be financially able to pay for that care?
In Kansas, the average annual cost for around-the-clock care in a nursing home, with a semi-private room, is a little over $65,000, according to a 2019 Genworth report. This means that an individual needing eight years of full-time nursing home care would pay more than $520,000 over that time period. For many families, this equates to most or all the wealth they have accumulated over their lifetime.
Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care in a nursing home. It will cover some expenses related to temporary admissions, but not long-term care. Medicaid is the State agency that provides payment for long-term care but only individuals who have less than $2,000 in countable resources are eligible. The application process for Medicaid can be confusing and time consuming. That process is even further complicated if you feel you have been unfairly denied Medicaid assistance (a common event, even for clearly qualified applicants).
What if you have more than $2,000 in countable resources and therefore, won’t qualify for Medicaid benefits? Is there anything you can do to protect yourself and your family from the sky-rocketing cost of long-term care? Yes, but you must be proactive. Individuals who plan in advance tend to be the most successful in preserving assets.
Families at nearly all economic levels can benefit from long-term care planning (when paying for nursing home care is not an immediate concern) and Medicaid crisis planning (when nursing home admission has already taken place or is imminent). An experienced elder law attorney will educate long-term planning clients on their many options, which might include: Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts; Gifting Trusts; Annuities; Asset protection planning for the next generation; Long-term care insurance, and Tax planning/consequences. Crisis clients, who have a current or pending need for nursing home care, might expect to visit with their elder law attorney about the following: Division of assets; Spend down of existing assets; and the Medicaid application process and requirements.
Working through the long-term care and Medicaid process can be daunting without the help of an experienced professional who will advocate on your behalf. To maximize your chance of protecting your family assets, seek the advice of an experienced elder law attorney. Elder law attorneys receive advanced training on the latest long-term care planning and Medicaid crisis planning options, and know the ins and outs of the complicated world of Medicaid.
For more information on long-term care and Medicaid planning, contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. 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, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, 1031 Exchanges and related matters.
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