A stay in a nursing home can drain the financial resources of all but the wealthiest households. Approximately half of people who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long term care during their lifetimes.

Benefit coverage for long term care is fairly limited. Medicare coverage for institutional care is generally restricted to short term stays immediately following discharge from a hospital or other medical facility. State Medicaid agencies do provide nursing home coverage, but in order to become eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage, individuals have to meet fairly strict need-based, financial eligibility requirements.

However, the eligibility requirements are not as inflexible as they may appear.

With proper planning, individuals and couples can still preserve assets and still gain eligibility for Medicaid nursing home coverage if a nursing home stay becomes necessary.

One of the major dangers in attempting to plan for Medicaid eligibility comes from attempting a do-it-yourself approach to meeting eligibility requirements. Individuals may unnecessarily dispose of assets in an improper manner that neither makes them better off overall, nor enhances their Medicaid eligibility. Even if a spouse who needs care gains Medicaid eligibility, self-directed planning could leave the spouse who doesn’t need care impoverished.

The key to preserving as many assets as possible while becoming Medicaid eligible is to work with a local, experienced elder law attorney as soon as possible. Medicaid nursing home coverage eligibility varies significantly from state to state. Planning techniques that work in one state may not work in another state.

Even if a nursing home stay is imminent, an elder law attorney can still help individuals and couples work to preserve as much of a family’s financial resources as possible while ensuring that individuals receive needed care.

The longer before a nursing home stay becomes necessary, the more effective planning techniques will be. An elder law attorney can work with individuals and couples approaching retirement age to discuss the advisability of longer term options, such as long term care insurance to protect against nursing home costs, or an asset preservation trust to pass on an inheritance to beneficiaries while still potentially receiving Medicaid nursing home coverage. An elder law attorney will work with clients to develop a plan that works best for the client’s specific situation.

To discuss your planning options for a potential nursing home stay, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.