The longer you live the better the odds are that you will eventually need long-term care. Like most people, there are a number of things that may concern you about the idea of living in a nursing home, not the least of which is the cost. With an average yearly cost of over $75,000, long-term care is not something the average person can pay for out of pocket; yet, most private health insurance policies won’t cover the cost of nursing home care nor will Medicare. Moreover, you may have heard stories about people losing their life savings because of the need to pay for long-term care. This may lead you to ask “ Does the nursing home get half of my assets? ”
When you decide to make the move to a nursing home the issue of payment will clearly be discussed. If you purchased a long-term care insurance policy your insurance should cover the majority of the expenses associated with your stay in the nursing home. If, like most people, you do not have insurance coverage you will either have to pay out of pocket or you will need to qualify for Medicaid. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does cover long-term care expenses.
If you plan to pay out of pocket you will likely enter into a contract with the nursing home. The nursing home does not have the legal right to take any of your assets at this point in time. The only way the nursing home could attempt to take any of your assets would be if you defaulted on your payment agreement. Even then, the nursing home would have to file a breach of contract lawsuit against you, obtain a judgment against you, and then move to execute on the judgment. At that point the nursing home could attempt to attach a lien to property owned by you which would give the nursing home a legal ownership interest in the property. The nursing home could also file a claim against your estate after your death if a bill for your care remains unpaid. At no time, however, can the nursing home simply take any of your assets just because you have an outstanding bill or because the facility is taking care of you.
The other way in which your assets could be at risk is if you apply for Medicaid to help cover the costs of your nursing home stay. Because Medicaid has very low income and resource limits you may be required to “spend-down” your available resources before Medicaid will start helping. The best way to protect your assets and ensure that you will qualify for Medicaid should you need it to help cover long-term care expenses is to include Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan early on in your life.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning, or your Illinois estate plan in general, 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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