When the time comes for a parent to transition into residential long-term care, things can get complicated very quickly. If a parent has not planned for their own aging process, finding the right facility that accepts their healthcare coverage and is appropriate for their unique needs can be daunting. If a parent has limited income and assets, they may be able to qualify for Medicaid and/or VA Aid & Attendance benefits. However, because both Medicaid and the VA have strict income and asset requirements, this can leave the spouse at home with very little to live on. It is important to engage a qualified elder law attorney to help evaluate Medicaid and VA eligibility. An elder law attorney experienced in Medicaid and VA planning may be able to protect more assets for the parent who remains at home through legal planning strategies.
If a parent has substantial retirement savings, then it may be possible to private pay thousands of dollars a month to a quality health care facility or in-home caregivers. But before committing to this, it’s important to take stock of what those costs will likely amount to. Several years of paying thousands of dollars a month for long-term care can severely impact the savings of even comfortable people and reduce their ability to leave a legacy to their children. With proper legal advice in advance of the need for residential placement, a plan to pay for care without losing everything is possible.
What about those parents who are financially stuck in between? These folks have too many assets or too much income to qualify for Medicaid or VA, but they are not wealthy enough to cover their own long-term care costs for the remainder of their lives. This is the group that can most benefit from seeking legal guidance as early as possible. An experienced elder law attorney may be able to implement strategies to qualify for Medicaid and/or VA sooner rather than later so that the parents and the rest of the family have assistance paying for care while stretching private resources as far as possible.
Long-term care is becoming more expensive and less accessible as the increasing baby boomer population continues to put a strain on the US health care system. Now is the time to engage your parents in discussions about the type of care they will want if long-term care is needed, including where they want to receive that care and how it should be paid for. It’s important to document your parents’ wishes in appropriate legal documents that name an agent to make decisions if your parents are unable to. We would be happy to help you and your family navigate these issues and come up with a plan to make sure your parents get the best long-term care possible without losing their life savings.