Over the years I’ve learned that one of the major concerns for many of my clients is the thought of needing skilled nursing care in the future and wondering how they would pay for it. This is a valid concern because spending time in a long-term care facility can be financially devastating. Currently, this type of care can cost about $15,000-$20,000 per month, which can quickly eliminate one’s life savings. There are ways to address this concern, however it requires planning in advance, long before you actually require such care.
THREE DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN GO
There are three different options to pay for the cost of care. The first option is Long Term Care Insurance. Long Term Care Insurance will pay for your skilled-facility care (subject to the insurance companies rules and restrictions). This type of insurance is effective, however, it may not be cost effective. Long Term Care Insurance policies are an expensive and ongoing cost that make it an impractical option for some.
The second option is to pay for the care with your own assets. Many people choose this route until their assets are depleted. At that point, a third option becomes available– Medicaid. Medicaid will pay for many of the expenses associated with skilled nursing care.
GIVING ASSETS AWAY TO QUALIFY FOR MEDICAID IS RISKY
Some people give their assets away in advance of needing skilled nursing care to qualify for Medicaid more easily. Giving away your money (to a child, for example) may sound like a good idea, but it can be risky. Children can get divorced, sued, have creditor issues, or can become catastrophically ill. As a result, the assets gifted to your child can be lost.
IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS ARE A GOOD OPTION FOR SOME
Per current laws, if you are going to give assets away you MUST do it at least five years before you need care in order to qualify for Medicaid. As I said above, it’s not wise to give assets directly to individuals for a variety of reasons. In this case, it’s better to set up an Irrevocable Trust for your assets. Irrevocable Trusts create an opportunity to safely protect your assets. The Trust creates “a wall” between the person needing care (you) and their assets, which protects the assets (inside the Trust) from having to be spent on care. Once the assets have been in the Trust for five years, they are completely protected from skilled nursing care costs. And if you have little or no assets left outside the Trust, Medicaid picks up the tab for the care.
It’s important to know and review your options while you’re still in good health. If you’re thinking about a Trust, the five-year look back for Medicaid begins as soon as you fund the Trust, so the sooner you can make a plan the better. If you would like to learn more about protecting your assets and discuss your unique situation, I offer a free initial consultation. Video, phone and in-person appointments are available.
Marc Guertin is the principal at Marc Guertin, Attorney at Law, LLC in North Haven, Connecticut. Visit AttorneyMarc.com, call 203-500-0201 or email Marc@attorneymarc.com to schedule a complimentary consultation.