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When Is The Best Time To Start Long-Term Elder Care Planning?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2023 | Firm News

The best time to start long-term care planning is when you approach retirement and qualify for Medicare at age 65. Of course, you can plan for long-term care before that time or after that time, but for most people, when they reach 65 and look into Medicare, that’s the best time to make sure that you have a good strategy for long-term care as you get older. It’s never too late to start planning, but the sooner you plan, the less expensive it will be. If you wait, you may miss the opportunity to plan certain things. It’s always good to plan early, but it’s never too late to plan something.

What Can We Do For A Family Member Who Neglected To Plan For Long-Term Elder Care?

I tell the family members to do their best to navigate the issues relative to their unique situation, though I know it’s difficult. I offer to help clients troubleshoot these failures to minimize the drain on the family’s assets and protect things from unnecessary spend-down when considering Medicaid. Still, the best thing is to seek sound legal advice from a qualified elder law attorney and do the best you can under the circumstances. Seek advice as quickly as possible because further delays will only compound the situation.

How Does Elder Law Compare And Relate To Estate Planning?

Elder law involves issues related to families and their loved ones as they age, and estate planning consists of organizing and creating plans for how your estate will be transferred and dissolved, typically at your death. Both involve moving and conveying assets through legacy planning, asset protection, long-term care planning, and other similar issues. Anyone who does estate planning post-retirement should have a thorough understanding of elder law and government benefit planning because the two go hand-in-hand.

Should Elder Law Planning Always Be Done With Initial Estate Planning?

It is less necessary the younger you are. I tell my clients that a good long-term care strategy forms the cornerstone of an effective estate plan post-retirement. The unexpected or unplanned cost of long-term care can blow up an estate plan if you have not made some provisions for how you will pay for care if necessary as you get older. Depending on how you plan for long-term care will direct how we structure your estate plan. Regarding effective estate planning for seniors, we must identify and determine how we will deal with long-term care expenses first, then we can build an estate plan around that.

If Someone Needs To Enter a Nursing Home Suddenly Without Any Prior Planning, Can They Transfer Assets To A Spouse Or Children?

One of the benefits of being married is the ability to transfer all or most of your assets to the spouse who is not residing in the nursing home, and the sick or ill spouse will be able to qualify for Medicaid. It’s a bit complicated, but the bottom line is we can make transfers to the healthy spouse and allow the sick spouse who is living in the nursing home to be subsidized by Medicaid. You should seek a knowledgeable elder law or Medicaid attorney’s advice to help you accomplish this, but as far as children are concerned, they do not share the same privilege as a spouse does. If you give things to children, you will incur a penalty, though there are some exceptions.

A disabled child, under the Social Security Administration, is one exception. You can give assets to a disabled child and still qualify for Medicaid, and in some situations, you can gift your primary residence to a child. However, that requires the child to have lived with you for two years in which you were able to stay out of a nursing home. Otherwise, making gifts to children can be highly problematic when it comes to applying for Medicaid.

For more information on Starting Long-Term Elder Care Planning, a No-Risk Consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 501-400-7355 today.