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Estate Planning Questions You Cannot Afford to Ignore

Will Medicare cover the cost of my healthcare needs?

No.  Medicare covers certain services but there will be out of pocket expenses, including co-pays, prescription drug costs, vision care, dental care and more.  Most importantly, Medicare WILL NOT pay anything for long-term care.  This means assisted living facilities, nursing homes and even most home healthcare would be your financial responsibility.  The cost for these facilities is astronomical and will easily bankruptcy a person within a short period of time.

How likely is it that I will need long term care?

The reality is that 70% of people currently age 65 will need some level of long term care as the activities of daily living become increasingly challenging.  For the people who end up in a skilled nursing facility, the average length of stay is 27 months.  Given these odds, Indiana seniors need to take long term care planning seriously.

Can’t I just pay for my long-term care with my own assets?

You can most certainly do so… if you are able to afford to do so and you do not mind wiping out what you worked your whole life to accumulate. Plus, given the approximate annual cost for a semi-private room of over $80,000.00 per year, those assets may be consumed faster than you might anticipate.  The better question here is why would you voluntarily wipe out what you spent a lifetime building, when with long term care planning, you can protect those assets and get comparable care?

Given the odds that I will need long term care, what can I do to prepare for these costs?

While Medicaid exists to provide health care coverage for people of limited financial resources, the reality is that an even larger number of Indiana seniors will qualify for Medicaid with long term care planning.  The way seniors of better than limited financial resources — and oftentimes people with significant resources — can qualify for Medicaid is through spending down and/or transferring assets in conformity with the law.  This is not as simple as it sounds.  Here at Van Winkle Legal, we see too many of our elders who face disastrous consequences as a result of trying to navigate the long term care planning waters on their own.

Can’t I just give my property to my family?

This is rarely, if ever, the answer.  The reason for this is that Medicaid will conduct a five-year look back of your financial picture from the date of your Medicaid application.  Should it be determined that you gave assets away for less than fair market value in that five year period, Medicaid will decline to pay for your care.  Instead, it will treat you as if those assets are still present and expect you to pay for your own care.  This is precisely why it is CRITICALLY important to plan ahead.  Getting your long term care plan in place now will ensure you are not in crisis planning mode when you are faced with a healthcare emergency.

My wife has been diagnosed with a serious debilitating illness and I cannot care for her.  Can you still help?

Absolutely. Van Winkle Legal can still provide valuable planning measures in the face of a healthcare crisis.  However, the options are far fewer and the benefits are not as significant.  Yet, for many families, we can put together a plan which provides a maximum level of protection given the timing of the crisis.