We believe that a team approach to long term care planning yields the best result for the client. Ideally, the team should consist of a financial planner, an accountant and an elder law attorney. Our clients often have long-term relationships with their financial planner and accountant, which makes us the newest member of the team. Lawyers and financial professionals also tend to approach long term care planning from different angles. We understand that financial professionals are often curious to know what value the elder law attorney will bring to the client. Here are a few points to help understand long term care planning from an “elder law” point of view.
Savings and long-term care insurance are not the only ways to pay for long term care.
About half of adults over 65 will need long term care which represents a significant threat to their savings. Planning should include all the options. Some clients' health status may rule out insurance. Before exhausting all assets to pay for care, clients should understand the role that public benefits could play in their planning. It may be possible to rely on Medicaid or VA benefits and still preserve assets to enhance quality of care and provide support for the well spouse.
Older adults with moderate wealth have the most to gain from long term care planning.
Older adults with low income and minimal assets can often qualify easily for public benefits to pay for long term care. It is moderately wealthy families – those with assets to protect – who benefit the most from planning.
The time to do long term care planning is when there are still assets to protect.
By the time a client spends down all assets on nursing home care, it is too late to benefit from any planning. A working knowledge of the Medicaid rules and appropriate planning techniques may enable clients to protect all or a substantial portion of their assets at a fraction of the cost of long term care insurance. The amount that can be protected depends on a variety of factors, including how early planning is begun.
Younger adults can benefit from estate planning that is designed to keep options open for long term care planning.
Long term care planning may be premature for younger and middle-aged adults, especially those with young children. But these families can still benefit from planning that is designed to preserve the ability to plan in the future. We counsel our younger clients on how to accomplish this.
We offer free workshops to help professionals educate their clients about elder law topics.
We understand that education is the first step in motivating clients to follow through with estate planning and long-term care planning. Our free workshops include information about these topics. The workshops are for anyone who wants to know more about the planning services we provide, including financial professionals and their clients. To sign up for a workshop, call our office at 251-431-6014 or register here.