Without adequate information and planning, many seniors make unwise or inappropriate decisions about their long-term care. They may be afraid they cannot afford the type of care they need or worry that nursing care will drain their estates of any possible assets to leave for their children. As a result, a loved one may end up sick and declining at home or in the care of a family member who quickly becomes overwhelmed with the responsibility.
Fortunately, planning ahead can allow you to set goals and identify any issues that may raise concerns in the future. Doing so sooner instead of later may save you frustration and stress.
Keeping your future bright
After you reach age 65, the chances that you will at some point need long-term care climb to 70%. You may need health care services following a fall, an illness, or surgery, or your health may decline so you are no longer able to care for yourself at home. Will you be financially ready for this possibility?
Long-term health care can be extremely expensive, and without proper planning, there is little chance you will be able to afford it. On the other hand, relying on Medicaid often means spending down your assets until you qualify. If you hope to be ready in case you need long-term care but prefer not to become impoverished in the process, there are options you can explore with your elder law attorney, including the following:
- Purchasing long-term care insurance is one option, but it can be expensive and risky.
- An irrevocable trust holds ownership of your assets so you can qualify for Medicaid and distributes your assets to your heirs when you die to protect them from certain tax ramifications and probate.
- Purchasing a private annuity or promissory note may protect you from Medicaid look-back penalties while providing a monthly income that allows you to pay for long-term care until Medicaid payments kick in.
- A caregiver agreement is a legal contract between you and a friend or family member who agrees to provide you with certain services in your home in exchange for a lump sum in advance, which allows you to spend down your assets and still receive the care you need.
Waiting too long to make your plans may place you in the difficult situation of not having enough money to afford the care you need but too much to qualify for Medicaid. Working with a skilled and experienced attorney may provide you with additional ideas and resources for protecting your assets and preparing for the possibility that you will need long-term care in the future.