The fortunate among us live long lives. The even more fortunate among us live long healthy lives that allow us to remain independent until the end comes. But that is not the reality many faces. For those dealing with life’s infirmities the issue of how to arrange and pay for the long-term care they or their loved one needs can be intimidating.
Paying for long-term care really comes down to three options:
- self-pay for those with sufficient means;
- long-term care insurance for those with the foresight to purchase it when they can;
- and Medicaid or other governmental benefits for everyone else.
Medicaid imposes strict financial limits on who can receive benefits which vary depending on whether the applicant is single or married and whether one or both spouses are applying for aid.
For those who cannot self-pay, or cannot self-pay for an extended period, there are ways of planning for Medicaid eligibility, including creating specialized trusts to shield assets, relying on one spouse to not need Medicaid, and investing in exempt assets, like a Florida homestead. Florida, unlike most states, is very generous when it comes to its Florida homestead exemptions. For Medicaid purposes, your Florida homestead is not counted among your assets so long as you have less than $603,000 in equity in it. Putting more money into the homestead becomes an attractive option.
How to Obtain Long-Term Care
Apart from figuring out how to pay for long-term care, it is equally important to plan for how to obtain that care. By the time a person needs long-term care, it is often too late for them to make those decisions for themselves. Having a Durable Power of Attorney in place that allows for the named agent to make legal arrangements for long-term care, including applying for Medicaid and possible veterans’ benefits, is essential, as is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, granting another person the ability to make medical and facility-placement decisions for you when you can’t do it for yourself.
Without a power of attorney and health care surrogate in place then your family would probably have to obtain guardianship over you and your property to make sure you are taken care of. The guardianship process can be expensive, but unless it is contested it is not usually drawn out. As a safeguard, it may be wise to include a Preneed Guardian form in your basic estate planning documents so you can nominate your own eventual guardian.
Most of us don’t know how long we have, or what condition we’ll be in during our last years. With some advance planning, we can help our loved ones help us. Contact an attorney from Chiumento Law, PLLC to make sure your estate plan covers your needs.