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  • Family dynamics in long term care planning: Using trusts to manage family expectations in long term care planning.

With the rising cost of long term care and the increased life expectancy of the American population, it is more important than ever to plan for long term care. The two largest programs that help pay the cost of long term care are nursing home Medicaid and VA Pension. Nursing home Medicaid covers the cost of a long term stay in a skilled nursing facility for those who have a need for such care. VA pension provides a monthly cash benefit to veterans and their surviving spouses that can be used to cover the cost of long term care in a variety of settings, including assisted living, independent living, at home care, and nursing home settings.
Both nursing home Medicaid and VA pension have asset and income requirements that must be met to receive benefits. While the asset and income requirements differ between programs, planning usually consists of using trusts that allow a trusted friend or family member to manage the assets of the applicant the would otherwise put the applicant over the asset limit for Medicaid and VA pension. This is a complex planning technique and should only be completed with the assistance of an experienced Georgia elder law attorney. Many times families cannot agree on who they wish to designate has the trustee of the trust holding the senior’s money. The trustee of a trust holding money for long term care has significant powers and responsibilities. Once a senior transfers money into a trust to qualify for long term care benefits, they lose all control over the assets, so the choice of trustee is critically important. Often times, a family cannot agree on one member to gives the power. In this case, they can select multiple family members to serve as trustees. Selecting multiple trustees forces such trustees to reach agreement, usually unanimous, to make distributions. This provides protection fvrom one family member inappropriately spending the money of the senior, but can slow down transfers. An experienced Georgia elder law attorney can provide guidance on balancing the need for protection of assets while insuring the assets may be transferred if needed.