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  • Planning while the sun is shining: the significant benefits to planning for a need for long term care

It is not fun to plan ahead. I recently went to the dentist on one of those sunny warm January days. It would have been more fun to eat lunch outside or go for a walk, but instead I am in a dental chair. Even though my teeth had no problems at that moment, I know if I do not take care of routine maintenance. Planning for elder law needs for long term care is similar. It is easier to get the care needed if planning is made in advance. Nursing home Medicaid and VA pension are programs from the federal government cover the cost of long term care for seniors who have a medical need for such care. Along with showing a medical need for long term care, applicants for these programs must meet income and asset tests. Applicants can meet the asset test for these programs by shifting assets to trust. For Medicaid, a penalty will be assessed for transfers that are made within 60 months of apply for Medicaid. Currently, there is no penalty for making transfers for VA Pension benefits, but there are regulations being proposed that would creat a penalty for making transfers for VA purposes.
For Medicaid, the benefits of planning five years ahead are substantial. If planning is completed more than five year before the need for nursing home Medicaid, 100% of the assets can be saved. If instead there is an immediate need for nursing home Medicaid, only 50-70% of the assets can be saved. This can result in the Medicaid applicant spending over $100,000 for their care that was not needed. Planning early for VA benefits for veterans and their surviving spouses is also needed to prevent any negative effects of future legislation.

It is prudent to seek a consultation with an experienced elder law attorney who can examine many options. A plan for protection can be formed, and it will be far less painful than a trip to the dentist.