What is Elder Law and Why Do You Need It?

| Jun 15, 2021 | Compassionate Estate Planning, Legacy Planning

What is Elder Law and Why Do You Need It?

Have you heard the term Elder Law and wondered what it is? Have you wondered how you will pay for long-term care either at home or in a nursing home?

Essentially, elder law attorneys are concerned with helping our clients pay for their long-term care. Statistically speaking, almost all of us are going to wind up in a nursing home someday. And while we don’t like to admit it, eventually, it becomes impractical to stay in the house even with a home health aide. So sometimes, 24-hour care becomes what’s in the best interest of our older adult population.

Many people don’t realize that Medicare and its supplements are not enough. People think that once they have Medicare, they’re good to go. But the truth is, that is incorrect. Medicare does provide some excellent health insurance, but it has a very limited long-term care benefit. In fact, that benefit has a one-hundred-day lifetime benefit if someone needs to be in an institutionalized setting such as a rehab facility or skilled nursing facility. After one hundred days, Medicare will not cover long-term care.

The average cost of a nursing home in the Northern Kentucky area as of 2020 is about $6,500 per month, nearly $80,000 per year. So that means folks who will be in the nursing home for a significant time face a six-figure expense, which will quickly wipe out a family’s life savings.

As you can see, nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be very expensive. Still, there are ways to stretch your long-term care dollars.  There are three primary methods of paying for nursing homes or assisted living facilities:

  1. Private paying with one’s own dollars;
  2. Using insurance that covers some or all the cost of long-term care; and
  3. Need-Based Government Benefits, i.e., VA Benefits and the Medicaid program.

Private-paying for care often means total indigence.

As I mentioned, nursing homes in our region cost about $6,500 to $8,500 per month. Assisted living facilities are less but still too much for many to pay without outliving their savings. Many people will be forced to spend all their savings in nursing homes and then have nothing left.

Long-term care insurance works for some.

But most people considering nursing home care do not have long-term care insurance and either cannot qualify for the policies or cannot afford the premiums. Long-term care insurance is, therefore, often not an option.

Need-based government benefits

This leaves Veteran’s Benefits and the Medicaid program. In Kentucky, Medicaid pays for almost all nursing homes, including the finest facilities. And Medicaid increasingly covers assisted living facilities. But to qualify for Medicaid, applicants cannot have more than $2,000 in assets and savings. And they must have less than $2,382 in monthly income (2021 figures).

Enhance the Quality of Life and Protect Your Life’s Work

Most families in our area do not have long-term care insurance, nor do they have millions of dollars in the bank. Therefore, they will be forced into poverty if they must pay for their long-term care.

Among other services that enhance the quality of life, Elder Law Attorneys help people ethically and legally convert “countable” savings to “non-countable” savings, so our clients can keep their savings and still qualify for Medicaid. This is done not out of greed but of necessity so that the Elder Law client is not left indigent at the cost of long-term care. In the words of one court, “No agency of the government has any right to complain about the fact that middle-class people confronted with desperate circumstances choose [to do Medicaid Asset Protection Planning] when it is the government itself which has established the rule that poverty is a prerequisite to the receipt of government assistance in the defraying of the costs of ruinously expensive, but absolutely essential medical treatment.”

Elder Law Attorneys people to ethically and legally keep their savings and still qualify for Medicaid. At Ruberg Law, we can help our clients build and execute Medicaid Asset Protection Planning strategies to have peace of mind knowing they will have the care they need without leaving their families impoverished.

This article is a service of Ruberg Law PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed, empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a complimentary consultation. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule your consultation.