As we grow older, often one of our greatest fears is wondering how we will continue to provide for ourselves. Nursing homes and long-term care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 per year or more, depending on needs. This cost can quickly exhaust the savings and assets of many families. Proper planning, either prior to or at the time of the need for care, can often help preserve a family’s wealth and maximize your ability to continue to care for yourself.

How Can I Save for Old Age?

As we look into providing for our long-term care, there are typically three ways to do so: private pay, long-term care (LTC) insurance, and government assistance.

Private Pay

Private pay can be the easiest and provide the best service. However, it is the most expensive.

Long-Term Care Insurance

LTC insurance can provide assistance in paying for necessary care while preserving a portion of your family’s wealth.

Government Assistance

Government benefits may be available through Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration. Government benefits have stringent requirements and the application process is time-consuming and may require the spending down of the family assets. Medicare is a federal entitlement program available to all retirees who receive Social Security. Medicaid is a need-based program designed to assist only the impoverished. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program. Each state operates its own Medicaid program which must conform to federal guidelines. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), enacted on February 8, 2006, recently changed the eligibility requirements and restrictions for Medicaid applicants. The DRA had perhaps its largest effect on the treatment of assets and asset transfers, increasing both the “look back” period and the transfer penalty period. An expert in the complicated rules of the different programs can help you plan ahead. Each situation is different due to the size and type of assets and income of the individual.

Do I Need An Estate Planning Attorney?

There are many rules and tools available to help you provide for your needs and those of your spouse and family. A qualified estate planner can help you preserve your assets and home through the use of permitted transfers, trusts, and “non-countable” assets and income streams. Your attorney may also suggest income-only, testamentary, life insurance; supplemental or special-needs trusts,  an immediate annuity, or a reverse mortgage. Waiting to meet with a qualified professional to assess your personal situation and needs may make it too late to take some steps available to preserve your assets. The sooner you begin, the better you can prepare for significant financial savings and better care for yourself and your family. You have worked hard to acquire your assets, it is up to you to be sure that your legacy will be preserved and your long-term care needs will be met.

 —Attorney Spencer Carr, The Carr Law Group

Note: This article is intended only to make its readers aware of the general need for planning. Any decision to take action should be made only after personal consultation with a qualified attorney.

About The Carr Law Group

The Carr Law Group is a full-service family firm of legal professionals serving the entire Northeast Georgia community, with offices in Clarkesville, Gainesville, and Cleveland. The firm is unique in that it was founded by attorney siblings: Spencer, Emily, and Quentin Carr. Our mission is to represent our clients’ interests aggressively and with forthright determination, ultimately finding solutions that are efficient, economical, and fair to all parties, while maintaining the highest ethical standard.