Recognizing that a parent or spouse is showing early signs of dementia is a heart wrenching experience and one that will take its toll on you emotionally as well as financially down the road. At the present time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While it may be possible to slow the progression of the disease, at some point down the road your parent or spouse will need long-term care. For about half of all long-term care residents this means depending on Medicaid to cover the high cost of care. If your parent or spouse is already showing signs of dementia you may be wondering if it is too late to do Medicaid planning.
The average yearly cost of a private room in a nursing home in the State of Illinois is about $75,000 as of 2015. If you happen to live in Chicago that figure increases to over $90,000. For a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s, or another old age related dementia disease, the length of stay in a long-term care facility will likely be several years. Most people cannot afford to pay for a single year, let alone several years, of long-term care out of pocket and Medicare does not cover long-term care costs. Medicaid, therefore, is the only option for many long-term care patients. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be tricky.
Because Medicaid is a “needs based” program, eligibility is determined, in part, on an applicant’s income and assets. To be eligible you must have monthly income below the program limits and not have countable assets whose value exceeds the program limit. The asset limit is where older applicants run into problems if they failed to plan ahead. If the value of your countable assets exceeds the limit you will likely need to “spend-down” those assets before Medicaid will start helping with your expenses. Simply transferring those assets to children or other loved ones won’t work either because Medicaid utilizes a five year “look-back” period when evaluating an application. This is why Medicaid planning is so important.
Ideally, your parent/spouse started incorporating Medicaid planning into his/her estate plan many years ago; however, even if they did not it may not be too late to include some Medicaid planning strategies into their estate plan that will allow them to qualify for Medicaid while still protecting valuable estate assets. The key is to sit down with your Illinois estate planning attorney the moment you realize that there may be a need for your parent/spouse to qualify for Medicaid so you can discuss the possibility of incorporating some Medicaid planning strategies into your loved one’s estate plan immediately. Contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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