Planning for your retirement years should start years before you actually retire. When you are contemplating your retirement years, it is important to take into consideration the very real possibility that you, or a spouse, will need long-term care. To help you get started, a Grand Forks Medicaid planning attorney at German Law explains the top five steps involved in long-term care planning.
- Evaluate your health. Although most people cannot predict the need for long-term care (LTC), evaluating your state of your health now may be helpful when creating a LTC plan. This is particularly true if you have any chronic conditions and/or a family history of serious health conditions. For example, if you already have diabetes or high blood pressure, or there is a strong family history of heart disease, it is logical to predict that you have a higher likelihood of needing LTC down the road. Those same health conditions could cause your insurance premiums to increase dramatically as you age.
- Research LTC options and costs. While around the clock care in a nursing home is certainly one type of LTC, it is not the only type. Other options may include assisted living, community care, home health aides, and even family caregivers. Planning for LTC requires you to have some idea what that care will cost. Nationwide, the average cost of a year in LTC for 2019 was about $100,000. In North Dakota, however, that same year cost over $140,000 while assisted living and adult day health care ran approximately $40,000 and $25,000 respectively.
- Review insurance options. As a senior, you will likely depend on Medicare to cover the majority of your health care costs. What you may not know is that Medicare will not cover your LTC expenses. Neither will most private health insurance policies. A separate LTC policy is an option; however, the premiums may be high and the covered may be less than you anticipated.
- Discuss options with family. Understandably, most seniors would prefer to age in place and not have to be moved to an LTC facility. Likewise, when you are older you would probably prefer a family member to care of you instead of a nurse. Before you assume that your family members are willing to help though, sit down and have a very honest discussion. If you have four children who all live close and each has room for you, the need to move to an LTC facility may be unlikely in your case. On the other hand, if three of those four children are scattered around the globe, and the fourth doesn’t appear to be willing/able to provide care, you may wish to focus more on planning for LTC.
- Incorporate Medicaid planning into your estate plan. The good news when it comes to long-term care planning is that Medicaid does cover LTC expenses. The bad news is that failing to plan ahead could put your assets at risk and/or result in your application for Medicaid being denied. Medicaid uses both income and asset limits when evaluating an application. If you own non-exempt assets valued above the limit, you may be forced to sell those assets (“spend-down”) and use the proceeds to pay your LTC costs. Only when those proceeds are gone will you qualify for Medicaid. Planning ahead, however, by incorporating Medicaid planning into your comprehensive estate plan can protect your hard-earned assets and set you up to be eligible for Medicaid if you need the benefits offered by the program in the future.
Contact a Grand Forks Medicaid Planning Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about long-term care planning, contact a Grand Forks Medicaid planning attorney at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.