January 2022 Newsletter
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Dear Friends, Clients, and Colleagues,
I often receive concerned calls from family members about aging loved ones and their potential need for long-term care or at least, some assistance in the home to maintain lifestyle, dignity and independence. So, this issue of the Lannik Law newsletter is dedicated to our thoughts on how best to provide care for our loved ones at home, in a skilled facility, or even in an assisted living facility, through the creation of a long-term care plan. Over the years I have seen the old axiom come true more than I would like to acknowledge, “A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail,” particularly in the long-term care arena. The lead article here “Penny-Wise and Pound Foolish” refers to people who do not want to consider or pay for a plan to cover the need for long-term care created by my office or any other, or to provide for long-term care in any meaningful way. These people believe: that they won’t need it: “I’ll never go to a nursing home or assisted living, and I can live at home alone until they carry me out feet first. Medicare will provide for my long-term care needs. I have sufficient assets to cover the cost of my care.”
Unfortunately, these premises are unfounded in fact and statistics. Our article covers some of the areas that you need to consider for yourself or for a loved one—especially if they want to age in place.
There is no question that this newsletter may lead you to have more questions than answers, and that is what Lannik Law is here for. Please feel free to contact me and set up a free 30 min meeting, to discuss your concerns and what we can help you do to alleviate them.
Happy Healthy New Year to All!
Are You Penny-Wise and Pound Foolish About Long-Term Care?
The New Year is here and the holidays are coming to an end. As the month of January gets underway, we know many of our friends and clients are focusing on how they will achieve their resolutions. What are your resolutions? Did you focus on your work? Or on your health and family? Did your estate planning goals or your long-term care goals make the list?
No matter what you choose, we want to let you know that one of the most important things you can focus on this year is ensuring your long-term care plan reflects what you need right now, as well as in the future.
Unfortunately, less than half of all Americans have a current estate plan and even fewer have a long-term care plan in place. These statistics are concerning as research tells us that over 70% of Americans over 65 years old will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime and that the current cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home starts around $15,000 per month in and around the Greater Boston area; and over $180,000 per year in out of pocket costs for this type of care. So, you cannot afford to put off the planning for the long-term care you may need.
We find that many of our clients are surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover long-term care. They believe that Medicare is a long-term care plan and therefore they don’t need to look further! Let us share with you that traditional Medicare only fully covers up to 20 days, and up to 100 days with a daily coinsurance payment, of nursing care after a hospital stay. If you need long-term care, in a facility or in your own home, it can be extremely expensive. This is why it may be important for Massachusetts seniors to have a long-term care plan in place as soon as possible.
Most of our clients also let us know that they have no desire to reside in a skilled nursing home. We understand this desire, as well as the fact that much of the care that is needed can be provided by skilled care providers in the home, as long as it can be paid for. This again is where the Medicare program falls short. In almost all circumstances, it also does not pay for this form of care in the home.
But, without a long-term care plan in place that you create with the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney, your options are limited for being able to afford this care. Without a plan in place you may be facing the reality that you must:
- Rely on your own savings and expend them, which will cost you your legacy
- Lose your legacy to afford the ever rising cost of long-term care
- Try to buy long-term care insurance, although the premiums may be both expensive and unavailable if you wait too long or have an underlying health condition
- Rely on adult children, often called the “Sandwich Generation,” for financial support
At Lannik Law, we can work with you to develop a long-term care plan that can legally enable you to access much needed public benefits for this type of assistance.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a qualification program to help you afford this type of care and not lose a lifetime of savings to meet long-term care needs. Many people, however, will not qualify because their income and assets are “too high”, so they mistakenly believe they must pay for long-term care on their own. While it is true that when the money runs out, they can qualify for Medicaid coverage, it does not have to be this way. We help you navigate your questions and find the answers you need through appropriate planning. In fact, if you are fortunate enough to have a family caregiver you can rely on as well, we can help you create a relationship together that allows you to get the services you need and provide financial compensation to the caregiver as well, in a way that does not penalize you for accessing needed future benefits.
There is hope! Careful planning is the answer. Susana is a CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney), who has the knowledge and background to help you plan for your long-term care needs, and may be able to protect some assets or stretch your existing assets to pay for care for a longer period of time. How should you get started? Contact our practice for more guidance on elder law planning, so we may schedule a time to meet.