Elder law is the legal specialty that is focused on the needs of senior citizens. If you are concerned about the eventualities of aging, you should definitely discuss the future with a licensed elder law attorney.
There are a number of different relevant elder law issues that you should be aware of, but the matter of long-term care is at the top of the list.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of senior citizens will someday need help with their activities of daily living. Long-term care is extremely expensive, so it is difficult for most people to pay out-of-pocket.
Most seniors will eventually qualify for Medicare, but Medicare is not set up to handle long-term care costs. This presents a challenge for many elders. Elder law attorneys help seniors who are concerned about long-term care costs.
You are probably aware of the Medicaid program, but you may not feel as though it is relevant because you are not financially needy.
Medicaid is a government health insurance program that will pay for long-term care. As a result, many people who were never poor throughout their lives ultimately seek Medicaid coverage. In fact, most of the long-term care that is received by elders in the United States is paid for by Medicaid.
How could you qualify for Medicaid if you have significant resources? People typically qualify for Medicaid through a measured divestiture of assets. This process is often referred to as a Medicaid spend down.
You could in effect give your children their inheritances in advance so that you can qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. However, this is easier said than done, because there is a five-year Medicaid look-back. If you give away assets within five years of applying, your application will be denied while you serve a penalty.
Because of the look-back, Medicaid planning can be challenging. Elder law attorneys help clients who want to plan ahead effectively with future Medicaid eligibility in mind.
Locating an Elder Law Attorney
If you are trying to locate an elder law attorney, you would do well to look for affiliations with highly respected professional organizations. One of these bodies is the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.
The Academy has been devoted to estate planning and elder law issues for over 20 years. They have a database on their website that can direct you to a member in good standing in your area.
Our firm works closely with the Academy, and we would be glad to assist you if you live in the greater Indianapolis area. We can answer any questions that you may have about long-term care and Medicaid planning. You can request an appointment through our contact page.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.