Elder Law: An Overview

In Arkansas the average price of a nursing home stay is $160/day, or $58,400/year. As you can imagine this can and will consume most of our life savings in a short period. Moreover, it will leave our loved ones (spouses, children, or both) with less resources for the remainder of their lives. The Medicaid system is full of rules and regulations that are difficult to understand. These rules are difficult and nuanced enough that most lawyers do not even understand them. Every situation is different, but we can typically save families at least 50% of their assets and sometimes as much as 75% of their assets. Protect What Matters, your family.

The consistently high costs for home health care, assisted living and nursing home care across the U.S. underscore the need to address long-term care as part of financial security planning. Further complicating the issue, America is getting older. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than any other age group, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statistics show that people reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.8 years for women and 17.1 years for men).Most people realize they will need care, and yet they’re not sure how they will plan for it.

A Cost of Long-Term Care study done in 2011 concluded:

Assisted living facilities: The national average monthly rate for a private, single-occupancy room in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $3,372.41. The national average monthly rate for a shared room in an assisted living facility was $2,592.40.

Home health care: The national average hourly rate for home health aides provided by a certified home health care agency was $20.65. The national average hourly rate for home health aides provided by a non-certified home health care agency was $23.98.

Long-term care: The costs vary considerably across the country. The average for an Arkansas nursing home  for the monthly rate for a room in a nursing home is $3,372.41.

Medicaid planning can be divided into two types: pre-crisis planning and crisis planning. Pre-crisis planning is for those individuals who have not yet begun to spend their assets on private care, but may need to in the coming years. Crisis planning is for those individuals using their life savings for long-term care, either at home or in a facility, with a substantial risk that they will run out of money.

Elder Law: Medicaid Crisis Planning

Clients come to us when an elderly relative is hospitalized or already in a nursing home for rehab or long term care. Sometimes the elder is already paying privately for nursing home care. They assume that the elder must spend down all of their assets on private nursing home costs. Wilson & Haubert, PLLC can help transition from  private paying the nursing home to protect assets for the elder’s benefit, and qualify the elder for Medicaid to pay the nursing home costs.

Elder Law: Medicaid Pre-Crisis Planning

A large part of Wilson & Haubert, PLLC’s practice areas is Estate Planning. Pre-Crisis Planning begins before our clients enter the nursing home. It is best to complete Pre-Crisis planning before the  5 year (60 month) Medicaid look back period. When we plan for clients that might be affected with the high cost of long-term care we incorporate Medicaid planning into their Estate Plan. There are numerous ways to plan for protecting your assets from nursing home expenses.

Medicaid Eligibility

In Arkansas the Medicaid program is administered by the Department of Human Services. Usually the countable assets requirement for a single person is limited to $2,000.00 and it is $3,000.00 for a couple. If you give any money away to qualify for Medicaid there is a 60 month look back period and the applicant will be penalized for gifts during that time period. The penalty given is ineligibility for Medicaid benefits, the more money you give away the longer you are ineligible for Medicaid. If you are in Arkansas and need to plan for Medicaid or if you are already paying for the cost of long-term care, please give us a call. We would love to help.

Cost of an Elder Care Attorney

The cost of an elder care lawyer depends on the specific situation our clients are in. The situation could call for little work, or it could call for moving many assets, retirement accounts, the house, the farm, the family, etc. For that reason the fee can vary depending on the client. The practices we use save our clients money, even after our fee. If you need help in this area of law, please Contact Us.