In this article, you can learn about:
- The process and benefits of forming an elder care plan.
- Why an attorney plays such a critical role in long-term care planning.
- What you can do to avoid some of the pitfalls common to Medicaid applications and care plans.
What Is The Goal Of Proper Long-Term Elder Care Planning In Louisiana?
When you or a person you love needs long-term care in a nursing home, it’s normal to be worried about losing everything. Nursing home costs are often extravagant and can leave even frugal spenders in tight financial situations. When nursing home care affects things like your family home and access to Medicaid, major concerns are far from uncommon. Luckily, there are steps that you can take today to prepare for a better tomorrow.
Creating an Elder Care Plan will ensure that you have a strategy in place for any point in the future when you may need long-term care. Through a comprehensive Elder Care Plan, you can make provisions that will help you maintain your dignity and quality of life for as long as possible. What’s more, these plans allow you to structure your assets in a way that can help you qualify for Medicaid benefits and ensure that your estate remains a resource to your loved ones after you pass away.
Many people wonder: What does long-term care cost in Louisiana? On average, nursing home care costs around six thousand dollars per month, and the high price tag can eat up an average person’s savings in no time.
So, What documents do you need to make a solid elder care plan? These plans are usually created with the help of an estate planning and elder law attorney. Plans created this way can be tailored specifically to your needs and provide you with the utmost legal security. Some of the documents you may create with your attorney will likely include:
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Directives
Most people don’t start planning for long-term care until they reach their late 60s or 70s. While this is the norm, it’s not the rule. Some people begin their elder care planning sooner in life – and there are only upsides to this approach.
So, when is the best time to start working with an elder law planning attorney? The truth is, it’s never too early to start working with a lawyer to plan for your long-term care. In fact, the earlier you begin making provisions for your care as an elder adult, the greater opportunity you will have to protect your savings and take advantage of the options that are right for you.
If you choose to work with Progeny Law Firm for your elder care plan, an expert long-term care attorney can get to work creating a strategy that is tailored specifically to your goals for the future. Our firm offers both one-on-one meetings and group consultations that include clients and their children so that we can meet the needs of individuals and families alike.
Is It Too Late To Start A Long Term Care Plan If My Loved One Is Already In A Nursing Home?
It’s rarely ever too late to create a structure for the care of your loved one. In late-stage cases, crisis planning techniques can be used to protect some assets. These strategies can include techniques such as: annuities, gifts, personal care agreements, and the strategic spending down of assets to try and protect a nursing home recipient’s savings before they apply for Medicaid.
How And When Should You Apply For Medicaid?
You can’t apply for Medicaid until it’s medically necessary. As a result, most people are already in a nursing home the Medicaid application process begins. This is just one of the reasons long-term care planning is so important.
When it’s time to apply for Medicaid, you’ll likely need benefits as soon as possible. And just how long does it take to get approved for Medicaid? Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times for Medicaid applications have taken even longer than usual – for the average application, it takes around six months on average to receive a decision.
By planning for your Medicaid application in advance, you can protect your assets and ensure that everything is in place so that you can access Medicaid benefits as quickly as possible once you need them.
Therefore, it’s generally a good idea to start Medicaid planning with an elder law attorney as early on as possible, or at least five years before nursing home care is needed. This can provide you with many more options than starting a Medicaid application with no prior planning.
If you are able to approach this topic early, you’ll have the time you need to make decisions and work out the details of your estate. What’s more, early planning can ensure that you have an opportunity to obtain long-term care insurance, as this insurance is not typically available once you begin experiencing health problems.
How Much In Countable Assets Can Someone Have While Qualifying For Long-Term Care Medicaid in Louisiana?
For a single individual, the limit of countable assets is $2,000. Married couples often hear this and worry, “What can my spouse keep if I need to qualify for Medicaid benefits?” Fortunately, there is a separate provision for married couples. If you are married and your spouse does not require long-term Medicaid benefits, they are allowed to keep assets worth up to $137,400 as a “spousal resource allowance”.
In light of this, some people may attempt to gift their assets in order to reduce the size of their personal estate. However, this delays your Medicaid eligibility. Why? Because Louisiana imposes a penalty for any gifts made within 60 months of your Medicaid application date. This means that you need to begin planning five years in advance to prevent penalty or denial of benefits.
This penalty requires you to pay for your care out-of-pocket for a period of months calculated by dividing the total amount that has been gifted by $5,000. To help understand this, you can consider the following example:
You gift $50,000 to your family two years before applying for Medicaid. Upon receiving your application, Medicaid officials note this gift and divide its amount, $50,000, by five thousand, equaling 10. You would then be required to pay for your nursing home care out-of-pocket for 10 months before Medicaid benefits would kick in.
(Of course, gifting can still be used as part of a crisis planning strategy, but you must be sure to have a way of paying for care during the penalty period.)
What Do You Do If You’ve Been Denied Medicaid?
Medicaid can be denied for any number of reasons. Most often, denials aren’t issued until the Medicaid office first requests additional information. In any case, if you believe that you have been denied benefits unfairly, it’s important to contact a Medicaid planning attorney as soon as possible to appeal the decision.
Mistakes To Avoid In Elder Care Planning
The greatest mistake that people make occurs when they never make a plan in the first place, or when they take action to remedy their situation without an understanding of the potential consequences.
This most often occurs when parents donate property to their children without an understanding of the penalties that it can place on their Medicaid eligibility. It’s not uncommon for parents to make gifts to their family, only to find themselves facing a penalty period after it’s too late to alter the situation.
Secondly, people commonly run into problems with incapacity planning. When you choose to use a Power of Attorney from the internet, it can be too late before you find that the document didn’t have the required provisions that allow your agent to take necessary steps in securing your care. This can result in the agent being blocked from engaging in Medicaid planning, using Trusts, and more. Frequently, this forces the family to file an Interdiction Proceeding before they can ever step in to help their parent get the care and benefits they need.
The most certain way to avoid these pitfalls is to work with a trusted elder law attorney. By discussing your goals, concerns, and wishes with an expert, you can be confident that your plan will be structured perfectly for you – and that it will give you the legal security you need, when you need it.
For more information on Elder Care Planning In The State Of Louisiana, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (225) 465-1090 today.