As great as it is to live longer—and many of us are—the longer we live, the more likely we will need long-term care when we cannot care for ourselves.
Preparing for long-term care so that we have adequate resources available to us later is more important now than ever, especially when you consider that the costs associated with different levels of care are rising every year.
In Chapter 7 of my book, Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die: 14 Secrets For Protecting Everyone You Love And Everything You Own, I explain that long-term care planning includes the usual safety nets: health insurance, long-term care insurance, and savings accounts. But with the rising cost of medical care, home health care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care, those safety nets may not be enough. Fortunately, other programs can help.
The two more common resources are Veterans Benefits and Medicaid. Do you qualify? We are here to help you find out.
What are the VA benefits for veterans who need help with activities of daily living?
VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits provide monthly payments for qualified Veterans and survivors. A married veteran can qualify for over $2,700 per month in a pension if they need aid and attendance. A single veteran can qualify for over $1,700 per month, and the widow of a veteran can qualify for over $1,100 per month. To qualify, the veteran must meet the following criteria:
- Must have served at least 90 days
- Of those 90 days, one day needs to have been during a defined period of war
- Must have a medical need and require help with daily living activities
There are also income criteria with Veterans benefits, but medical expenses are deducted from the income, which can include the cost of home health care, assisted living, and nursing home care.
Also of note: if you are a veteran and wish to make a gift to a family member or friend with the expectation that the money is used to take care of your needs later in life, you can definitely do that subject to the 3 year lookback. If you choose to do this, I suggest placing the gifted money into a trust for your benefit. This way, everyone is clear that the money is to be used for that purpose only. A perk is that the money is also protected from divorce, creditors, and lawsuits while also providing a clear plan for who manages the money if something were to happen to the first trustee.
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid benefits are federally subsidized and administered by the state. Like Veterans benefits, there are income and asset requirements, but you should not automatically assume that you will not qualify. This is a great way to get the government to pay for skilled nursing when you need it.
With a married couple, there are ways to protect all of the assets, and with a single person, we can protect about half of the assets. As I describe in my book, the first lady I helped with Medicaid was 65 years old. Her husband needed to go into a nursing home, but she was healthy enough to stay in independent living. They had $300,000 that they saved during their marriage. Under the Medicaid rules and without the help of an attorney, she was allowed to keep around $100,000. The rest would have to be spent before he could qualify for Medicaid. Under the same rules but with our help, we were protected the full $300,000. Clearly, you can see the benefit of advanced planning.
Call Leigh Hilton Attorneys today!
Dealing with programs such as Veterans benefits and Medicaid can be complicated, but they are an important piece to the puzzle when preparing for long-term care. And none of this has to be overwhelming if you take the time to sit down with an experienced estate planning professional. Planning ahead with Leigh Hilton, PLLC Attorneys reduces the stress and ensures the best possible results for you and your family. After all, if we are going to live longer, we might as well enjoy it.
Please call Leigh Hilton, PLLC for all your long-term care and estate planning needs. We want to be your first call every time for any estate planning need.
We look forward to serving you.