On the face of it, Long Term Care Planning may not sound like estate planning.  However, it could dramatically impact you, your spouse and your estate—potentially leaving you destitute in your old age. If you’re over age 65, the chances are 70 percent that you will spend some time getting care at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home. Today, care at home runs from $20 an hour to $11,000 a month, assisted living costs between $3,000 to $6,000 a month, and nursing home costs average $8,000 a month. At this rate, life’s savings disappear quickly, particularly for Alzheimer’s patients who need long-term care but are otherwise very healthy.

It does no good to have a terrific estate plan if, at the end of the day, there is no estate left. So, as part of your estate plan, you must have some form of long term care protection.

By far, the best protection is Long-Term Care Insurance. This insurance is the best protection because it can help you stay at home longer through the “home care option.” Some people cannot get Long-Term Care Insurance at a reasonable cost. If that is the case for you, there are other ways to handle the high cost of long term care. Some of these methods rely on government programs.

If you plan ahead, you may consider an irrevocable Asset Protection Trust. By establishing the Trust at least five years in advance of your need for nursing home care, you may be able to protect many of your assets.

For someone “on the nursing home doorstep,” it may be possible to protect many assets by taking advantage of the Medicaid and Veterans Administration (VA) rules. But to use these rules, I recommend you seek advice from a Certified Elder Law Attorney to understand how the rules work. The Medicaid and VA rules are complex and change constantly and you don’t want them to risk losing your assets with an illegal transfer.

The way to determine how to best protect you and your assets is by talking to the right estate planning attorney. At Senior Edge Legal we specialize in helping you create a plan that fits your unique needs and avoid costly mistakes. Call and make an appointment with Susan M. Graham, a Certified Elder Law attorney who can look at your overall estate picture to decide what makes the most sense in your case.