Does Elder Care Have To Be Crisis Planning?

Elder law planning usually begins with a crisis. As the result of a catastrophic illness or disability, a spouse or parent faces admission to a long‑term care facility. The family fears that everything the infirmed person had worked for and accumulated during a lifetime may be at risk.

For 25 of their 45 years of practice, the lawyers at McHugh & Macri in East Hanover, New Jersey, have been providing help and guidance to individuals and families facing this situation. We have good news and bad news.

First The Bad News

The bad news is that, yes, everything you own is at risk because the United States does not have an adequate long-term care plan for the elderly.

Many believe that Medicare will pay for nursing home care. Medicare pays for hospitalization, rehabilitation and therapy. When rehabilitation and therapy are over, you become a custodial patient. Neither Medicare nor Medicare Supplement Plans pay for custodial care. Medicare covers a maximum of 100 days of rehab and therapy. After 100 days, you become insured by the Y.O.U. insurance company, with convenient offices in your left or right pocket!

With the current cost of 24/7 in home care at $7,000 per month; assisted living costs at $8,000 a month and  nursing home costs of $12,000 per month or $144,000 a year, the estate you spent a lifetime building can be wiped out. While long-term care insurance policies will pay for nursing home costs, these policies need to be purchased years in advance of need. If you wait until you need long-term care, the cost will be prohibitive or coverage unavailable.

The basic rule to become eligible for public benefits is quite simple:  you spend all your of your resources down to $2,000 and then you're eligible for Medicaid.

Now The Good News

The good news is that health care impoverishment does not have to happen and your "fair-share" of the cost will be far less than the 100% Medicaid requires. Most people believe that once you are in a long-term care facility, it's too late to preserve assets. Wrong. Our lawyers can still preserve and protect some of your assets, including your home. The sooner you come to us, the more we can shelter. If you wait until you are admitted to a long-term care facility, our lawyers can protect only some assets. Had you started earlier, you would have been able to preserve a much higher percentage of your assets. There is no question you will be able to preserve resources, the fact is merely how much.  The planning we use to protect your assets is called asset preservation and it is a legal way to preserve them.

Don McHugh and Vince Macri are two of only 450 attorneys nationwide who are certified in elder law (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.

Free Lawyer Consultation

For a free initial consultation with one of our CELA partners, call 973-577-6010 or fill out the fee-free contact form on this website.