Kentucky Estate Planning

Does Your Long-Term Care Plan Include Protecting Your Assets?

It’s important to have an estate plan in all phases of our lives, but as we age, planning for the future becomes a necessity. Finding ways to protect your assets and prepare for the possibility of long-term care will ensure that you and your family will be taken care of. There are several ways to use estate planning tools to maintain your quality of life and have enough to leave behind for your beneficiaries. 

Elder Law and Estate Planning

Elder law encompasses a wide range of legal matters that address the needs of seniors and their families. It’s a holistic approach to estate planning that includes strategies for long-term care, guardianship, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, and protection from potential exploitation. The goal is to protect the rights and best interests of the elderly and preserve everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve. 

The True Cost of Long-Term Care

One of the most common concerns for many people is the potential cost of long-term care. The rising costs of goods and services can bring anxiety to even the most organized planners. It’s not always possible to tell exactly how much long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility will cost 10-20 years from now. It’s always advisable to plan well in advance to give your estate enough time to adjust to developments in your life. 

Medicaid planning is a great way for individuals to qualify for necessary benefits to cover the financial burden of long-term care while preserving their assets. Medicaid is a government program that provides eligible low-income individuals with essential healthcare coverage. However, the eligibility requirements have strict limits on income and assets, which makes it challenging for those with substantial estates to qualify.

Even if you have grown a nest egg that could provide the funds for long-term care, there are no guarantees that it will sustain through unexpected circumstances. For example, expensive medical procedures or the rising cost of living could cause the funds to deplete prematurely. No one wants to wait for a crisis in order to qualify for Medicaid. Thankfully, with appropriate planning, there are methods of preserving your assets and fulfilling Medicaid requirements.  

Medicaid Planning

Working with an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney will open the doors to protecting your best interests. If you have concerns that your assets will not cover the cost of long-term care, your attorney can assess your unique circumstances and develop a personalized estate plan that addresses those needs. 

Your attorneys can help guide you through Medicaid eligibility requirements and develop practical strategies that enable you to qualify for benefits without exhausting your remaining funds. Offsetting the costs of long-term care may require setting up a trust to shield your assets from consideration during eligibility review. Qualifying for Medicaid will cover the costs of your long-term care and enable you to leave your hard-earned assets to the next generation. 

Start Planning Today

If you haven’t started developing your estate plan, there’s no better time to start than now. No matter the size of your estate or your assets, you have things worth protecting. Planning early and amending as necessary can safeguard your rights and help you retain control even if you’re no longer able to live alone. At the Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center, our legal professionals are passionate about giving you peace of mind by protecting what matters most. Call (270) 982-2883 to schedule a free initial consultation and get your plan started.

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Medicaid Planning & Protecting Your Assets

At this time, the average cost of a nursing home in Kentucky is between $70,000-$80,000 a year. The national average for a private room is over $100,000 a year. Typically, the people who require these types of facilities are retired, live on a fixed income, and are not in a position financially to cover the significant costs associated with long-term care. The unfortunate reality is that many families exhaust the entirety of their savings within two years of entering a nursing home. 

Medicaid may appear to be the solution and problem for anyone in this position. It provides the financial assistance you need to pay for the long-term care facility, but you may have too many assets to qualify. From the onset, these same people begin to view the assets that they spent a lifetime accumulating are what is preventing them from getting the assistance they need. Because of the stress and urgency of the situation, they may make very costly mistakes. 

This includes selling their home for less than market value to a friend or relative or simply giving away their assets. In extreme cases, some people may give away everything they own and realize it wasn’t what they needed to do to qualify. When you work with a qualified attorney who understands Medicaid planning, you will discover that you can be eligible and retain your assets. 

Exemptions, Spend Downs, & Transfers 

Before you apply for Medicaid, your attorney will ensure that your assets are either exempt, have been spent, or have been transferred appropriately. For example, Medicaid cannot take your family home if your spouse lives in it. Even if you pass away in the nursing home, your spouse can continue to live in it. The same extends to a car and an IRA. These are examples of exempt assets.

Although Medicaid allows you to “spend down” the money, it must be spent on either the person entering the nursing home or their spouse. Medicaid has a five-year lookback period and can actually penalize you for improperly giving away assets and money during it. An elder law attorney can advise you on how to “spend down” your money correctly and legally. 

If you begin your Medicaid planning early, you and your attorney can discuss the possibility of placing your assets in an irrevocable trust. The downside of these trusts is that once your assets go into the trust, you will be unable to take them out. (Do not confuse these with irrevocable income-only trusts.) The tremendous advantage of an irrevocable trust is that once you fund the trust with a specific asset, that asset is no longer counted as yours. 

Contact the Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center 

Medicaid laws are constantly changing and are complex. The attorneys at the Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center study and follow them, so we will be in the best position to advise how to retain your assets legally and still qualify for Medicaid. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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How You Can Effectively Protect Your House From Medicaid Estate Recovery

If you or a family member is making use of the Medicaid program, it’s important to keep in mind that states will attempt to recover the costs of that care from the estate of the Medicaid recipient. Unfortunately, in most cases, the only substantial asset remaining at death is the personal home – often leaving families and would-be beneficiaries without the largest item of intergenerational wealth. Those utilizing Medicaid aren’t necessarily stuck in this predicament, however. With some proactive estate planning, you can ensure that your house will remain safe from Medicaid estate recovery.

A Trust Can Provide Protection

The primary method by which we can protect your home is with an irrevocable trust. These trusts can protect your home from estate recovery, liens, and lawsuits by effectively separating it from your own property. After placing an asset, such as your home, into an irrevocable trust, it is essentially separated from your own property. It should be noted, however, that irrevocable trusts are just that – irrevocable.  Even though the trust is irrevocable you can still change your beneficiaries and the trust can also distribute assets out of the trust those persons named as lifetime beneficiaries. There are many different considerations that have to be accounted for in establishing an irrevocable trust, so working closely with an experienced estate planning attorney is always recommended to ensure the viability of your trust.

The Benefits of an Irrevocable Trust

The benefits of an irrevocable trust don’t stop at protection from recovery. Transferring the family home into a trust also protects from a higher tax burden on your beneficiary, as simply giving the house to a beneficiary during their lifetime could result in capital gains taxes if the beneficiary sells the house during their own lifetime.  The trust will also provide a much safer transfer of the home to your beneficiary, without the troubles of using a direct deed. 

The security of your family’s biggest asset shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re ready to take the next steps in protecting the family home from Medicaid recovery, contact the Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center today.