There is more to estate planning and elder law than drafting and administering wills. A thorough estate plan can also protect our property, our wishes and our rights while we are still here to enjoy them. Among the tools estate planning attorneys use to make life easier for their clients and their families are living wills, living trusts, guardianships and long-term care planning.
The last of these tools is in some ways the most difficult. The cost of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is outrageously high. According to some sources, the price of a private nursing home facility is, on average, nearly $100,000 a year.
The very wealthy may be able to afford the costs of at-home care, or nursing home care, and to buy the increasingly expensive insurance that can help them pay for it, although even the rich may struggle with these bills if their health care costs increase and their time in nursing home care extends for many years. Those who are of much more limited means may be able to pay for nursing home care through Medicaid. However, many Americans are stuck in what some estate planners call “the dangerous middle.” These Americans are not rich enough to afford long-term care out of their own pockets, but have enough assets that they are disqualified from Medicaid.
Estate planning attorneys find creative ways to help Americans in this dangerous middle. With smart Medicaid planning, attorneys can help clients protect their assets while also maintaining eligibility for government benefits that can help them pay for long-term care.
Many people find the thought of long-term care planning overwhelming. It is indeed a very complex subject, and it can be uncomfortable. Still, many people experience a sense of peace once they talk to a skilled attorney, and do the necessary work to protect themselves and their families through careful planning.