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Elder Planning for Nursing Home Costs

We take pride in helping our clients throughout their lives, even toward the end. Many of our clients are concerned for themselves or their parents about losing everything paying for nursing home care. Unfortunately, many of us have heard of stories where people saved all their lives, but were left with nothing in the end because they needed nursing home care.

It does not need to be that way. We help our clients plan for the possibility of nursing home care including the use of Medicaid to help pay for their care, while still allowing them to also have security and choices. We also help people plan to leave a good part of their life savings to their children or other loved ones.

We can help people who are relatively young and healthy, as well as those who are already in nursing home care. In many cases we can save tens of thousands of dollars for extra family security.

Spend Down

Long-term nursing home care can only be paid by the Medicaid program (Title 19) if a person has met a very low income and asset threshold. Most people end up “spending down” until they qualify; paying out of their pocket, selling their assets including cabins and hunting land and cashing in all of their retirement accounts. Only when they are down to $2,000, their home and a car can they rely on help with their expenses.

The problem with spending everything before qualifying for help is that if the help stops, you are on the street with no money, and therefore no choices. You are also left without the ability to provide for yourself anything the government will not pay for.

In many cases, we are able to help our clients plan so they can make gifts of a significant part of their assets and still qualify for Medicaid assistance. The methods involve computing a penalty period and being sure there is money to pay for expenses without a gap in care.

Estate Recovery

After a person has died, the state of Wisconsin will try to recoup the amounts Medicaid paid for nursing home care. The state does this by placing liens on any residence the person may have had, and pursuing any other assets the person may have owned. If the assets were in a Medicaid-compliant irrevocable trust that was properly funded, the state cannot seize or prevent the heirs from receiving these assets.