Hopefully, you recognize the need to have a well thought out estate plan in place to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you are gone. Your estate plan, however, should accomplish much more than simply creating a roadmap for the disposition of your estate assets upon your death. For example, have you considered the very real possibility that you, or a spouse, will need long-term care (LTC) at some point during your retirement years? If you do need nursing home care, how will you pay for that care? To ensure that you are prepared for the high cost of LTC, an experienced New Jersey nursing home planning attorney can help you incorporate a long-term care planning component into your comprehensive estate plan.
Will You Need Nursing Home Care?
Although there is no way to know whether you, or a spouse, will need LTC when you are older, the odds make it prudent to plan for the possibility. When you enter your retirement years, at around age 65, you will stand a 50-50 chance of eventually needing LTC care. With each passing year, those odds increase. By the time you reach age 85, your chances of needing nursing home care before you die will have increased to a 75 percent chance. Keep in mind that if you are married, or have a partner, he/she will have the same odds.
The Cost of Nursing Home Care
If you do end up in a nursing home, are you prepared to pay the cost of that care? Like most people, you may realize that nursing home care is not cheap; however, you may not realize exactly how expensive it is. For 2016, the average cost for a month of nursing home care nationwide was about $6,500. For New Jersey residents, that same month of nursing home care averaged $10,000 for a semi-private room and over $11,000 for a private room. With an average length of stay of 2.5 years, that puts the average New Jersey nursing home bill at over $300,000!
Why Do I Need a Nursing Home Planning Attorney?
If you are like most people, you have grown accustomed to counting on your health insurance to cover most health care costs. You are probably assuming Medicare will take over where your health insurance leaves off when you reach retirement age. With respect to most health care costs, that assumption will work; however, Medicare does not cover nursing home expenses except under very limited circumstances and, even then, only for a short period of time. Unless you purchased a long-term care insurance plan at an extra cost, any health insurance coverage you still have will also likely exclude LTC expenses. For over half of all seniors in need of nursing home care, that leaves Medicaid as the only viable option for help paying for the cost of that care. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can put your nest egg at risk if you failed to plan ahead. A nursing home planning attorney can help you prevent that from happening.
A nursing home planning attorney can help you incorporate Medicaid planning into your estate plan well ahead of the need to qualify for Medicaid benefits which is the key to protecting your assets. Medicaid uses both an income and a “countable resources” (assets) limit when evaluating applicants. If your assets exceed the limit (as low as $2,000 for an individual), Medicaid will impose a waiting period during which time you will be expected to “spend-down” your assets. In reality, the spend-down requirement means you are expected to sell your assets and rely on the profits to cover your LTC expenses during the waiting period. Once the value of your assets falls below the program limit you will be approved for Medicaid. Of course, by then you have lost a significant portion of your hard-earned nest egg. The key to protecting your assets and ensuring that you will qualify for Medicaid if you need it in the future is to work closely with an experienced New Jersey nursing home planning attorney to incorporate Medicaid planning into your estate plan now.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions or concerns about nursing home planning, or you wish to get started with your plan, contact the experienced New Jersey nursing home planning attorneys at Augulis Law Firm by calling 908-222-8803 to schedule your appointment today.