While Americans are living longer than ever before, longevity comes with a price. Many of us will eventually require expensive long-term care when physical or cognitive impairments make it impossible to continue living independently.

We certainly don’t want to alarm you, but consider the implications of the following statistics:

  • At least 70% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care at some point in their lives.
  • In Michigan, the average cost of a nursing home is nearly $10,000 per month or $120,000 per year. In certain cases, the costs are considerably higher and are expected to rise in coming years.
  • Many families exhaust their life savings within a year or two of a family member moving into a nursing home.

Elder law involves helping seniors and the people who love them plan for the legal, financial, and emotional challenges that come with growing older. In particular, this specialized area of the law deals with the growing problem of how to pay for long-term care without using your home or life savings. 

Preparing for the High Cost of Long-Term Care

Long-term care planning, which is also called pre-planning or Medicaid planning, is for people who are healthy now but want to be prepared for the possibility of needing expensive long-term care at some point in the future. While all seniors can benefit from this proactive approach, long-term care planning is especially important for couples with a significant age difference between spouses or anyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses that increase the likelihood of requiring long-term care in the future.

We will work closely with you to design a plan to protect your life savings against the cost of long-term care while at the same time ensuring you receive the care you need. Medicaid planning must consider a wide range of factors, including:

  • The level of care you might require
  • Your available assets
  • The value of exempt vs. non-exempt assets
  • Income payable to the potential Medicaid applicant directly versus income payable to a spouse
  • The needs of spouse still remaining at home
  • How trusts could be used to leave an inheritance for your children or grandchildren
  • Options to help you “spend down” assets safely and effectively

A word of caution—many people think that they can just give assets away to loved ones before entering a nursing home in an effort to qualify for assistance from Medicaid. While gifting is certainly possible, it must be done in precisely the right way and at the right time. The penalties for giving away assets improperly to become eligible for Medicaid are severe, including loss of eligibility for years.

Coping With a Medicaid Crisis Situation

While it’s always best to plan ahead, sometimes unexpected emergencies force you to make difficult choices. When a person has been told that they must enter a nursing home in the very near future, it gives rise to what is known as a Medicaid crisis situation.

Given the high cost of nursing home care in Michigan, denial of assistance from Medicaid is indeed a financial crisis for all but the wealthiest of families. However, do not despair. If you or someone you love is facing a Medicaid crisis, there’s still hope.

What you must understand is that information about Medicaid eligibility provided by well-meaning friends, family, and even social workers is often outdated or inaccurate. The laws governing Medicaid eligibility are complicated to begin with and often seem to change from one year to the next. We understand these laws and can help you qualify for Medicaid assistance even if you have significant assets. 

If you are already in a nursing home, we can still help. We can help you get the care you need without losing your home or your life savings.

Let Us Help You Create a Plan That Fits Your Unique Needs

The earlier you begin the process of planning for long-term care, the more options we will have to protect your assets while affording any care you might require. Contact us today to schedule a free strategy session to discuss your particular needs and goals. Consultations are available at our Howell or Clinton Township offices or anywhere in Michigan virtually.