In Georgia, nursing home costs average about $80,000 a year at the present time, according to multiple sources. With many elders eventually needing nursing home care or another type of long-term care, planning ahead about how to pay those costs for yourself or a loved one is absolutely essential. The sooner you begin planning, the more options you have for protecting your assets and addressing nursing home costs in the future.
In some circumstances, federal and state programs provide assistance with nursing home costs and other long-term care needs. But it is a mistake to think that government programs will cover the entire cost of the necessary care for a senior. Some programs provide only partial or limited benefits. Other programs — like Medicaid — have strict eligibility requirements.
Planning for nursing home costs and other long-term care needs is important for everyone. Fortunately, strategies and options are available that often enable you to protect your assets and create a plan to cover future costs for your own care or care for a loved one. A knowledgeable elder law attorney with experience in nursing home care planning and Medicaid planning will help you navigate through the process.
For some individuals, government programs may help to pay costs for nursing home care and other long-term care needs. Medicare, the federal program that pays health care costs for persons over 65 years old, pays very limited benefits for long-term care needs. However, Medicaid, which is a joint federal and state program administered by the State of Georgia, pays a substantial portion (and sometimes all) of the costs for a nursing home for eligible individuals. For veterans and their spouses, Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits may help pay some long-term care costs as well.
Medicaid eligibility rules are complex. Each state determines the rules that apply to residents in the state. If you live in Georgia, it’s essential to understand the specific rules that apply here.
To be eligible for Medicaid, an individual must meet strict income and asset guidelines. The rules that apply to determining assets are particularly complicated, especially because Medicaid has a five-year look-back rule that applies to the asset analysis. However, even a person who thinks they may be over the qualification limits may be able to meet eligibility requirements by using available strategies for protecting assets while satisfying the rules. Consultation with a Medicaid planning lawyer is essential in this situation to avoid significant risks and potential pitfalls of attempting to self-qualify.
You may read additional details about some of the specific aspects of Medicaid planning in these previous articles by our Medicaid planning attorneys:
Trusts are an important tool in nursing home care planning, just as they are in estate planning. A carefully drawn asset protection trust can protect your property in a wide range of circumstances and sometimes provide tax benefits as well. A trust may be an appropriate strategy for your nursing home plan.
A specific type of trust called a Miller Trust or Qualified Income Trust may enable a Georgia resident to become eligible for Medicaid when they otherwise would not qualify. This type of irrevocable trust must meet specific requirements to be valid.
Setting up any kind of trust requires assistance from an experienced lawyer. That is especially true if you want to use a trust to protect your assets as part of your plan to pay for nursing home care costs or other long-term care costs. You should never attempt to create a trust using a form or on-line service. In fact, the do-it-yourself / DIY approach to creating legal documents creates substantial risks in any circumstances.
An experienced nursing home planning lawyer draws on a diverse range of options and strategies for creating your nursing home care plan. Not all options work in all circumstances. The totality of your circumstances (or your loved one’s) must be taken into account in determining the best options for your situation.
Developing a personal nursing home care plan for yourself or a loved one requires assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer. First, your attorney collects all necessary and relevant financial and personal information. Then your lawyer analyzes and evaluates the circumstances, taking into account all federal and state laws and programs that apply. Together, you then discuss options and alternatives that are available, and your attorney helps you develop a strategy that fits your unique situation.
When you address your future needs for nursing home and other long-term care in a thorough and thoughtful plan developed with professional guidance, you have the peace of mind knowing that your needs will be addressed. You can rest assured and secure in the knowledge that you took care of an important aspect of your future.
In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help seniors and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Nursing home planning and Medicaid planning are an important part of our services. If you need to plan for nursing home care and other long-term needs for yourself or a loved one, we can answer all your questions and help you make the right decisions.
We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.