Elder Law

LONG-TERM HEALTH CARE PLANNING

As an Elder Law attorney, I assist individuals and families in crisis to address long-term care issues, and engage in pre-crisis planning to address the possibility of future long-term care issues.

Nobody plans to retire in a nursing home, but in Washington State the nursing home occupancy rate is 90.6%. Why? Because people do not plan ahead to stay out of a nursing home. Long-Term Care planning involves coordinating your legal planning to figure out how to pay for the ever-increasing cost of long-term care, and working with a Health Care manager when necessary to guide the family through the difficult and often confusing process of developing a plan of care. The goal is to maintain independence while preserving quality of life.

The biggest threat to most estates today is long-term health care costs, and the potential that these costs will wipe out retirement savings. According to Genworth Financial’s 2013 Cost of Care survey (an extensive study on the current trends of the Long Term Care industry), the average cost of care for one year in a nursing facility for the Seattle area is $ 93,805.00 for a semi-private room (with 2 or 3 “roommates”); in an assisted living facility the average cost is $ 54,000.00, and homemaker / in-home care services average $59,000.00.

In 2012, 15.4 million caregivers provided more than 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion. Some legal planning can often be accomplished to provide financial assistance, as well as give those unpaid family caregivers much-needed respite.

VA AID AND ATTENDANCE

As a qualified veteran or spouse of a veteran, the VA Aid and Attendance pension benefit may be available to you if your future health care needs increase to the point that you are spending a majority of your income on the cost of care. The program is designed to provide additional monthly income of up to $ 1,732 for veterans, $1,113 for widows of a veteran, or $2,054 per month to a couple. A veteran filing with a Sick Spouse is eligible for up to $1,360 per month. It is NOT associate with any service-connected disability. Aid and Attendance for a qualified veteran or spouse is specifically designed to address uncovered long-term care costs.

MEDICAID PLANNING and ASSET PRESERVATION

No client of mine has ever wanted to rely solely on Medicaid to address their care needs. Those of you familiar with Medicaid know that the program will cover most basic necessities, but does not provide much in the way of quality of life.

Some legal planning can often be accomplished to protect assets that can be used to supplement where those Medicaid benefits may fall short, provide a greater quality of life to the loved one who needs assistance with their Activities of Daily Living, and ensure that the spouse of the medically needy senior does not run out of money as well.

If you or a loved one are facing significant long-term care costs, whether at home, in an Adult Family Home or Assisted Living Facility, or in a Nursing or Rehab facility, the Medicaid program may be of assistance. Medicaid is designed to help cover the cost of long-term health care, both in your own home or outside the home in a residential or institutional setting. Most people assume that you can have no more than $2,000 to your name before you are eligible for benefits, but this is not necessarily so. The Medicaid qualification rules are complex and change frequently, but some legal planning can often be accomplished to protect assets and help ensure a greater quality of life for the incapacitated and their family.

LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE

While I am not an insurance broker, I can assist you in your analysis when deciding whether to purchase long-term care insurance, and guide you through what an adequate policy should contain. There have been a number of recent changes in the long-term care insurance industry which can make a policy much more attractive than in the past, including the addition of Partnership Policies and Hybrid Life / Long-term Care policies. A good long-term care policy can make all the difference when addressing quality of life issues if you are incapacitated, but an inadequate policy may end up costing you more than what you get in return.

Call today to discuss these or other long-term care and legal issues you or a loved one may be facing. A little advanced planning can make a world of difference.