Sixty percent of Americans live with chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In West Virginia (WV), Ohio (OH), and Kentucky (KY), rates of chronic disease are often even higher than national averages. When individuals and families think about estate and elder care planning in WV, OH, and KY, the long-term care costs that result from chronic diseases must be considered.
This is the first in a series of six blogs on the topic of long-term care in elder care planning in WV, OH, and KY. The blogs that follow in this series will take more in-depth looks at the topics discussed here. Consulting an attorney for long-term care planning and the guidance of a financial advisor can help you protect your interests and those of your loved ones as you age.
Long-Term Care in Elder Care Planning in WV and the Tristate Area
An estate plan includes your will and other documents and devices that convey your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and property upon your death. Estate plans typically also include living wills or other instructions for end-of-life health treatment. However, the potential need for long-term care at home or in a nursing home or other facility is commonly overlooked when estate plans are prepared.
While some individuals have the resources to take a private pay approach to long-term care, the ongoing expenses can be devastating, even to those who have been relatively financially secure throughout life. In planning for future or immediate long-term care, there are many complex legal and financial considerations to be taken into account, including the following:
· Health insurance options and restrictions related to Medicare and estate planning;
· Long-term care insurance types and options;
· Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia Medicaid requirements, and related issues around spousal Medicaid benefits;
· Any additional sources of income or coverage to which a person might be entitled, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
An experienced attorney for long-term care planning can help you evaluate the array of possible resources and options in the context of your personal situation.
The first thing you need to know about Medicare and estate planning is this: Medicare does not pay for long-term care. If an individual meets the eligibility requirements, Medicare will pay for some forms of short-term care in skilled nursing or other facilities. However, paying for true long-term care with Medicare is not an option. This means other forms of coverage must be evaluated.
Long-term care insurance found in some Medicare supplement plans or other insurance products can be a good choice, but it is not affordable for everyone. An attorney for long-term care planning can help you evaluate the affordability, benefits, tax implications, and other details of traditional or hybrid long-term care insurance policies.
Long-term care partnership programs in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky provide an additional alternative for those interested in long-term care insurance. These partnerships between the state, private insurers, and Medicaid provide some additional choices and opportunities for those seeking coverage of long-term care expenses.
Medicaid is state- and federally-funded health care coverage for low-income individuals and families who meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Medicaid does cover long-term care expenses, but limits on income for qualification and the implications of those restrictions on other members of the family, particularly a spouse, mean careful financial planning is necessary.
Spousal Medicaid considerations include concerns about the assets and income available to a spouse who remains in the home when the other spouse is in a long-term care facility. The federal government has enacted provisions to prevent spousal impoverishment in these situations. An attorney for long-term care planning can help you evaluate West Virginia Medicaid requirements, as well as those of other states and the federal government.
Financial and estate planning tools, such as trusts and asset transfers, can legally be used to organize your estate in a way that maximizes your opportunities for health and long-term care coverage. These tools can be helpful in avoiding spousal Medicaid issues and preserving the assets you have earned in your lifetime.
While it is never too late to implement an estate plan that covers your long-term care concerns, thoughtful consideration and advance planning are greatly beneficial, and can help elderly individuals avoid penalties related to asset transfers and other financial changes made within designated Medicaid look-back periods.
SSI and SSDI have some features in common, but they are distinct and different programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Understanding the differences between these programs, and knowing which you receive or are eligible to receive, has important implication for planning for the coverage of long-term care.
Individuals who served in the U.S. military and surviving spouses who are eligible for general benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affiars (VA) might also be eligible for Aid and Attendance or Housebound allowances. Individuals in need of care in the home or in a residential facility can qualify for these benefits, which are paid in addition to a veteran's pension.
A Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help with Elder Care Planning in WV, OH, and KY
An attorney for long-term care planning can assist you in ensuring that your care, and that of your spouse and family, will be provided for as the years pass. Anna M. Price of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC is experienced in matters related to Medicare and estate planning, as well as other topics covered here.
The next installment of this blog series will look more deeply at long-term care insurance and the laws and issues related to that specific area of elder care planning in WV, OH, and KY. In the meantime, if you would like to consult with Anna or another attorney about the issues discussed here, please contact Jenkins Fenstermaker by phone at (304) 523-2100, toll-free at (866) 617-4736, or complete our online contact form today.