Elder Law is an area of the law which deals with planning for the possibility of incapacity. Documents such as Health Care Proxies, Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney are used to appoint agents to make your decisions if you are not able to do so. Elder Law also addresses planning options for persons who may need long term care in the future or who currently need long term care.
As people age, they should also consider how their long term care would be paid for if they ever needed nursing home care. Contrary to popular belief, Medicare may pay for long term care in a nursing home but at best, that is limited to 100 days of coverage. The current average monthly nursing home cost on Long Island is $13,000 per month. There are essentially three ways to pay for long term care:
Private Payment: This may be an option where you have extremely high income–sufficient or nearly sufficient to cover the monthly cost of a nursing home. However, if your income is not sufficient, privately paying for that care would exhaust your assets fairly quickly.
Long Term Care Insurance: Purchasing Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance has become very important–especially as the Medicaid transfer rules become more restrictive. Even if your monthly income is very high, if your spouse needs that income to pay monthly bills, LTC insurance can be used to pay for your care while preserving your income for your spouse. If you are single and wish to preserve your assets for your heirs, LTC insurance can help to protect those assets.
There are many LTC policies available and we can counsel you with respect to the types of policies and limits of coverage you should be looking for when speaking to a LTC insurance agent. Purchasing a policy with inadequate coverage will not be sufficient to protect your assets and may not properly protect your income for your spouse. We are also counseling our younger clients to purchase Long Term Care Insurance now– the earlier you purchase it, the less expensive it is. If you can’t afford LTC insurance or have a medical condition which disqualifies you from being covered, we can counsel you with respect to Medicaid planning to protect your assets.
Medicaid: This is a joint federal and state program designed primarily to pay for long term care in a nursing home and at home. Proper advance planning can help to position you to obtain Medicaid to pay for your long term care if you need it.