Serving Massachusetts clients with Elder Law Planning
A decision to enter a nursing home or long-term care facility is extremely emotional and requires a great deal of consideration. And the stress of your decision should not be further complicated by money matters. Unfortunately, without the proper Elder law planning, a lifetime of prudent financial decisions can be destroyed with just a few years ruinously expensive long-term care costs.
Elder law broadly describes the legal planning process that helps clients protect themselves and their assets as they age. Elder law can include estate planning tax planning, MassHealth Planning (Massachusetts version of Medicaid) and applications, asset protection and a host of other areas.
The planning involved, in this complex and challenging area of law, is becoming more critical due to the following:
- High and increasing costs associated with nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Lack of available funding for MassHealth to keep up with increasing costs due to the poor economic climate
- Increased life expectancies and the higher probability of needing long-term care
- The increased demands of the elder baby boom generation on the system
In Massachusetts, statewide averages for nursing home costs totaled $327/day for a semi-private room and $350/day for a private (that’s over $127,000 per year). Assisted living, which provides fewer services and is appropriate for seniors who can handle most of their day to day activities, averaged $4,645 per month. The average cost of home care provided by a home health aide was $24 per hour, while adult day care averaged $58 per day.
Advance Planning Strategies and Techniques:
After a thorough review of your situation and goals, we will consider a broad array of techniques to help protect your family’s assets in the event either spouse should be admitted to a nursing home. These techniques include:
- Using Irrevocable MassHealth Trusts and waiting out the five-year look back period for the purposes of MassHealth eligibility
- Purchasing long-term care insurance
- Legal spend downs and gifting strategies
- Using the community spouse resource allowance and purchasing an annuity
- Converting “countable” assets to “exempt” assets
- Deeding property to a Life Estate
Through effective advance planning (or carefully planning ahead) and smartly protecting assets, many middle class Massachusetts families may be able to prevent a financial disaster from affecting their loved ones.
In the event you have not planned ahead and are in crisis planning mode (i.e. you or a loved one is already in need of care or likely to in the near future), there are still options. We can help you navigate this plethora of services and to qualify for benefits while best protecting assets for you, your spouse, and your family. Rest assured we will take the time to inform you of your options, answer your questions and help you take careful and proactive steps toward obtaining MassHealth benefits.
A single error in MassHealth planning can prove costly. The MassHealth rules are complex, so sound and insightful planning is crucial. If you fail to qualify, you may be forced to sell your home or use other hard-earned assets to cover the entire cost of your nursing home care. Moreover, the government can even seek reimbursement for any MassHealth benefits you received in error and pursue MassHealth Estate Recovery after death.
To learn more about Elder Law or any other aspect of Estate Planning, call Attorney Zine at 781.930.3003 or e-mail us to schedule a free consultation.
 According to the MetLife 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs.