Get the facts before writing the checks for long-term care!
Big and Harry the farm cat does his own thing. (His main tasks right now are staying cool and coming around for food.) He comes off as a bit aloof and independent, as cats do, but we know that he is not quite the loner that he pretends to be.
Just as Big and Harry knows (deep down) that he doesn’t have to go it alone, we as Elder Law attorneys wish that more families knew about the ways we can help them protect hard-earned assets before spending down to nothing on long-term care. We have good information and know of resources that can help families be confident in the choices they make!
There is a lot of variety among those attorneys that practice Elder Law. Some do elder abuse cases, some do guardianships, some do estate planning, and some of us do Medicaid Planning to help families preserve assets when a loved one needs long-term care. The attorneys in this last category are fewest in number. If we added up all of the Medicaid applications that we file on a monthly basis, our total would be a very small percentage of the total applications filed statewide.
As life expectancies increase and long-term care costs continue to rise, Medicaid has become the primary long-term care insurance for the middle class. But eligibility for benefits requires that individuals pass strict tests regarding income and assets. Successful Medicaid Planning requires a deep knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern this complex system. Working with an experienced attorney can expedite approval, help avoid time- and asset-consuming denials, and protect assets that otherwise might be spent-down.
So what about the folks who don’t utilize the services of an Elder Law attorney? They must pretty much go it alone.
Sadly these do-it-yourselfers often act on misinformation, wasting thousands of dollars that could have been protected with proper planning. They spend down all of a loved one’s assets on nursing home care before seeking help, as in, “Dad has already gone to the nursing home, and Mom has spent all of their money on his care.”
Lately it seems like these cases are increasing. We have encountered at least one case a week recently where all assets have been depleted. We’ve seen cases where families have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of years, leaving the at-home spouse destitute. This is totally unnecessary. A large part of this money could have been protected for the benefit of the at-home spouse or the family.
But one thing is for sure – once the money is gone, it’s gone.
There is no calling the nursing home or the state to get it back. When talking with these families, most of them tell us that they just didn’t know. No one told them that they could have saved a big portion of what their parents worked a lifetime to amass.
Now you know.
If your loved one – or anyone you know – is in a nursing home and is rapidly spending down their life savings on care, please do them a favor and have them call us – or any elder law attorney – before it’s too late.
Federal laws are in place to protect families from impoverishment due to long-term care costs. We know these laws, and our strategies are legal, moral and ethical. For additional information on our firm and a number of free resources, please call 501-843-9014 or explore our site at www.ArkElderLaw.com.
The information provided on this blog is intended as general information only for a broad audience. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be acted upon as such. If any reader has questions or concerns about any matter mentioned herein, he/she should contact an Elder Law Attorney or other appropriate professional. If any reader has questions or suggestions about a future topic area that he/she would like to see discussed, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.