Preplanning for Nursing Home Care

What exactly is nursing home preplanning, and when do you need to start thinking about it? Ideally, nursing home preplanning happens about five years or more before you think you or a loved one will need long-term care. Many seniors are concerned about losing their home and other assets if they one day require nursing home care. The best approach to ensuring that the cost of long-term care doesn’t deplete your assets is advance planning.

Most people don’t have enough money saved for the current cost of long-term care  and Medicare doesn’t cover nursing home costs beyond a short-term stay. You may have too much money for government assistance through Medicaid yet not enough money to afford quality nursing home care.

There are some legal strategies to re-categorize assets so you can qualify for Medicaid. Working with a skilled attorney, you can utilize estate planning techniques to protect your assets while also obtaining quality nursing home care. The benefit of preplanning — which usually involves putting assets into an irrevocable trust — allows you to start the clock on the five year look back period  that examines asset transfers prior to the Medicaid application.

Another option is a Pooled trust,  which can enhance quality of life by paying for services that Medicaid doesn’t cover. The sooner your estate plan incorporates the necessary elements of preplanning, the more effective your asset protection can be.

Choosing the right place

Once you have preplanned financially, you can go about choosing a desirable facility. Research the policies and programs of long-term care facilities. In general, assisted living facilities are state-licensed housing communities offering residents a range of services to help them with daily living. They do not  include the medical care found in a skilled nursing home, but they do provide meals, education and social activities as well as help with mobility, bathing, dressing and medication management.

Assisted living communities can run more like residential houses with only three to four residents and paid caregivers, or can be larger communities with many residents living in individual apartments assisted by many staff.

The more candid individuals and families are about current health needs and potential issues, the better the odds that advisers will be able to come up with the best solutions for each individual. Schedule visits with potential long-term care facilities to observe  the environment, get a feel for the community members, ,  and see how the staff interacts with the residents.

Pro-actively researching will put you in a better position than waiting until long-term care is an immediate necessity.  If you have some planning time, decide which area of the country your loved ones want to be in and plan several visits.

Here are some questions to consider and tips about how to engage when visiting:

  • How does the culture and atmosphere feel?
  • Is the facility clean?
  • Visit a few times at different times of day.
  • Eat in the dining room a few times.
  • Talk to the people in charge.

Before deciding on a plan of action, discuss all your options with a lawyer so you can fully understand federal and state Medicaid laws and design a plan suited to you and your family.

Do you have questions?

Count on your experienced team at Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance for your Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Probate, Trust & Estate Administration, and other legal needs. For assistance, contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at 

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