Aging Louisiana residents are often left to wonder what will happen if they become ill late in life and in need of long term care. So many have heard horror stories about friends, neighbors and relatives who have lost their entire life savings paying between $5,000 and $10,000 per month on nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in home care options. Many are also surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for these long term care services. This begs the question, are there any options available for individuals who would prefer to preserve their wealth for the next generation? Are there any programs that can offset the immense burden long term care expenses place on families in Louisiana?
The answer is a resounding YES. There are two primary ways to have the cost of long term care covered by sources other than your own nest egg. The first option is long term care insurance. Long term care insurance is a wonderful tool if you can afford it, and the insurance can be used pay for a variety of services once you become infirm. However, Long Term Care Insurance can be expensive, typically individuals pay at least $25,000 over the life of a long term care policy with no guarantee that they will ever need to use it. The second option is Medicaid. Medicaid has programs which can cover the bulk of your long term care costs, however you need to have a low enough level of assets on paper to qualify for Medicaid. If your assets exceed Medicaid’s limits, then you will not qualify for Medicaid, and you will be stuck covering the full burden of your long-term care expenses until you spend your resources down below the preset limits.
Each year Medicaid releases the maximum amount of assets individuals can have and still qualify for Medicaid to cover long term care services. These asset limits do not include the value of your home, one vehicle, or any money set aside for burial or burial insurance. If you are single, the resource limit has always been and will continue to be $2,000. For married couples where both spouses are in need of Medicaid for long-term care, the asset limit remains at $3,000. But what about married couples where only one spouse is in need of long term care? While the spouse in need of the care (also know as the institutionalized spouse) only gets to keep the $2,000 referenced above, the spouse not needing long term care (also know as the community spouse) gets to keep a more significant amount. The new Community Spouse Resource Limit for 2019 is $126,420. This is up from $123,600 last year. If your resources already fall below these limits, then it is unlikely that you need any long-term care estate planning.
However, when your assets exceed these Medicaid asset limits, steps can be taken to protect those assets in excess of the limits. Planning can ensure that you will qualify for Medicaid to cover long term care without needing to deplete your assets. To learn more about Medicaid asset protection strategies reach out to Legacy Law Center at (504) 274-1980 in Metairie, New Orleans, and surrounding areas or call (985) 246-3020 in Mandeville, Covington, Slidel, Houma , and Thibodaux.
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