Long-term care provisions are a vital part of estate planning

We are now living longer and more fulfilling lives than at any prior point in history. Whereas just a generation or two ago, living to 90 or 100 years old seemed like a fluke or stroke of luck, it is now a regular occurrence in many families. Even though it is now quite possible to live to hit the "century mark," it isn't always possible to remain wholly independent and capable of fully taking care of one's financial or physical and mental needs alone at such an advanced age.

There are many options for caregiving for the elderly and infirm, depending on the level of assistance that is needed. If, for example, a spry 80-year-old is still able to bathe, groom and dress herself, and is able to cook her own meals, then occasional help might be sufficient. This could involve a part-time caregiver who will assist her with getting groceries and travelling to medical appointments, and who will handle larger jobs around the house (mowing the grass, taking the trash can to the curb, etc.).

Once daily chores and self-care become more difficult, residential care facilities like nursing homes or assisted living facilities could be necessary, or full-time, in-home caregiving could also be an option. Having another person available 24/7 is of vital importance to someone who needs a high level of care due to the effects of age, illness or incapacity.

Financing long-term care

For someone who only needs a part-time paid caregiver a few hours a week, the question of how to finance this care might not be a hugely important one. The issue of paying for care becomes much more stressful and difficult when a high level of assistance is necessary. According to LongTermCare.Gov (the Department of Health and Human Services' and Administration on Aging's official website devoted to issues of long-term care), the average cost of qualified, higher-level assistance ranges from almost $2,500 each month for a bed in a board and care facility (with six beds or less) to $5,000 or more in an assisted living facility to $10,000 per month for a private room in a nursing home. The average private pay rate for nursing homes in California is $8,189 per month.

Medicare may cover short stays in a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation, but it is not available for long-term custodial care. The extremely high costs of such care can easily and relatively quickly run through the entirety of an estate's assets. Advanced planning and structuring to account for the possibility of long-term care - something that the National Care Planning Council reports that an estimated 60 percent of adults will need at some point in their lives - can mean that:

  • You have time and funds to purchase long-term care insurance to finance your nursing home or assisted living facility stay
  • More estate property remains for your heirs
  • You stave off inter-family squabbles between loved ones concerned about your well-being
  • You preserve eligibility for government benefit programs like Medi-Cal Long Term Care Benefit
  • You can set out terms for what sort of facility you would like to stay in, preferred care providers, etc., or appoint an agent to make health care decisions for you

It is absolutely critical to sit down with a skilled estate planning attorney who is familiar with Medi-Cal eligibility requirements and avoid of an estate recovery claim by Medi-Cal. To learn more about how estate planning can help you meet personal and financial goals, contact an experienced attorney at Mullin Law Firm today.