When you schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney you should be prepared to have a meaningful conversation. Your attorney is there to provide answers, and you should try to come up with some questions in advance to use your time wisely.
The Big One
If you have no other question for your elder law attorney, you should certainly ask about long-term care expenses and how you may be able to address them.
Many people don’t understand why elder law issues are relevant to them until they start to look into the subject of long-term care. You may go through life with the assumption that your health care needs will be covered by Medicare when you become eligible for enrollment at the age of 65.
Medicare will certainly be of great assistance in many different ways. However, long-term care is considered to be custodial care. It is not looked upon as being medical in nature. Therefore, a stay in a nursing home or assisted living community is not covered by Medicare. In-home care is not covered either unless it is convalescent in nature and of limited duration.
Logically thinking, your first thought may be that you will have to bite the bullet and pay for these costs out of your savings if they do present themselves at some point in time. This may be possible depending on the extent of your savings, but we are talking about some enormous expenses in many cases.
Long-term care costs have been going up by around four or five percent per year. So, if you need help with your day-to-day needs in 10, 20, or 30 years, this amount may be quite a bit higher. This having been stated, in 2012 the average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in the United States was around $90,500.
When you discuss this matter with your elder law attorney you will hear some things about Medicaid planning. Medicaid is thought of as being a program that is exclusively designed for those who have significant financial need. However, because of the Medicare gap, it has become the de facto long-term care insurance provider for a high percentage of elder Americans.
Medicaid planning involves taking measured advance steps to position yourself financially with future Medicaid eligibility in mind. The objective is to work within the program rules to be able to obtain eligibility while simultaneously facilitating the retention of a maximum store of assets for the well-being of your family members.
Long-term care is the big question, but there are other concerns that you may think of when you are preparing for your elder law consultation. Feel free to ask every question that comes to mind. Communication is the key to effective planning.