FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-08
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, anyone aged 65 or older will have a 40 percent chance of needing nursing home care. Medicare estimates that over 12 million Americans will need some form of long-term care by 2020. The baby boomer generation is approaching the time when many
A Metlife survey found that the average daily rate nationwide is an astounding $248 for a single bed. A semi-private room is not significantly lower at $222 per month. Assisted living facilities are also expensive, costing on average 3,550 per month.
Few families can safely ignore such costs. That is why planning for long-term care and nursing home expenses is paramount for aging people and their loved ones. There are several methods to help with long-term care, which are briefly discussed below.
Life insurance, long-term care insurance and disability insurance helps to cut down costs in the event of a disability or illness that requires at-home care or care in a facility. Obtaining a long-term care insurance policy is better earlier than later — there are health qualifications and the cost goes up with age.
Medicaid planning and trusts
Medicaid may provide help with the costs for people with limited income and assets who need nursing home care. This complicated area of law exempts certain assets when determining whether a person qualifies for Medicaid. However, it can be difficult to qualify for Medicaid, even when it is clear that a person cannot afford the cost of nursing home care.
A nursing home resident will eventually qualify for Medicaid, but only once all assets not exempt from consideration are sold to pay for care. By planning ahead, a person can use trusts and other legal methods to reduce an estate, giving a person the chance to leave assets for loved ones while still allowing a person to qualify for Medicaid.
Planning for nursing home care is not just about finances. Every person has the right to decide the medical care he or she wants. Unfortunately, a mental illness or disability can make it impossible for a person to communicate what those desires are. A living will is a legal document that states the medical preferences of a person who is unable to communicate those wishes. A living will can name a health care proxy, who is someone that makes health care decisions for a person unable to speak on their behalf. Similarly, a durable power of attorney names a person to handle the legal affairs of someone unable to do so on their own.
An elder law attorney can help
Planning for long-term and nursing home care is an essential part of every estate plan. An elder law attorney can advise anyone who has not planned for long-term care on the best way to cut down nursing home care costs and preserve an estate for loved ones.