Elder Law

Long-Term Care Planning: One Thing To Do Right Now

Far too many of us are concerned/worried that we may need a nursing home or long-term care in the future, and that our estate may be in the red as a result. But unfortunately, most of us don’t do any planning.

Nursing homes have been in the news many times this last year, and the publicity couldn’t be worse. It was already the last place anyone wanted to end up. Now, COVID has only reinforced the idea that we would do anything to avoid it.

But for some of us, a nursing home may not be avoidable. There are certain conditions, ailments and circumstances that may lead you or a loved one to have to enter a nursing home. Even if not a nursing home, expensive home care services may be required.

In a perfect world, our spouse, kids or loved ones would be able to care for us, but that just simply doesn’t match with reality in quite a number of situations.

Nursing homes are costing over $400 per day in this area—that’s $146,000 per year for those doing the math. Costs continue to rise faster than inflation, so by the time you need it, it will be more.

Now, you may shy away from doing any planning—such as Medicaid Trusts, long-term care insurance, etc. But what is one thing that everyone should do, regardless of age, estate size, and circumstances?

Answer: Create a well-crafted Durable Financial Power of Attorney.

Sounds simple right? Unfortunately, not enough folks have a valid Power of Attorney. This legal instrument can be a life-saver and estate-saver. Even if you haven’t done any financial planning in advance, a well-written Power of Attorney allows your appointed agent (can be anyone you choose) to take care of you on your behalf. That includes doing any legally viable last minute planning to preserve your estate.

Yes, there is a five-year lookback period for gifting under Medicaid. That means that a lot of options are off the table by the time you enter a nursing home. But there are some little known provisions in the law that allow us to legally plan despite the five year period.

Without the Power of Attorney, our options become limited and much more difficult.

So if you are worried about long-term care planning, the easiest thing you can do right now is talk to me, your estate planning and elder law attorney, about getting a valid Power of Attorney. If your Power of Attorney is old, please get it updated! Old Powers of Attorney often don’t have the magic language we need if we are trying to do long-term care asset protection.

There is more that all of us can do to plan for long-term care, but this is low hanging fruit that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s easy to do, but the costs of not doing it potentially are very high.

To schedule some time for review with me, just contact my office today at (215) 706-0200.