A huge misconception about estate planning is that it only helps people plan for taxes and distribute your “stuff” after death.

While planning for death is certainly a key piece of the estate planning puzzle, estate planning also helps you protect your wishes, your assets and your independence during life, too.

This is especially true when it comes to helping you navigate the complicated world of long-term care and making arraignments to pay for it during the golden years.

It’s important to note that long-term care is a very likely scenario for all of us.  People are living longer than ever, but it also means that the period of time in which we cannot fully care for ourselves may be longer, too.

More and more people are finding that they need some form of long-term care to deal with these issues.  In some cases, this can even be handled at home, but even in-home health care options are expensive.

Nursing homes are another common solution when it comes to long-term care, and an attorney can help you plan for this transition.  It’s common for people to think that the government will pay for their nursing home stay or that a nursing home isn’t any more expensive than renting an apartment.  Both ideas are usually untrue.

Instead, there are typically 4 ways to cover the costs associated with long-term care.  Here is a brief rundown of the most common options:

  1. Private Pay – Private pay means that any care that is needed, from nursing homes to prescriptions drugs (including co-payments or full costs) are covered out of pocket.  This is typically not a feasible option for most seniors, as elder care services tend to be very expensive.  It’s not unusual for assisted-living placements to cost upwards of $8,000 a month.  That means that “simple” basics that are required for day-to-day living come out to $96,000 a year.
  2. Medicare – Medicare is a health insurance program administered through the government.  Estate planning and elder attorneys in Orange County work with this program a lot because one of the basic requirements is that you must be over 65 to receive benefits.  Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare does not typically cover long-term care.  So, even if you qualify for this program, it cannot be used to cover nursing home care or in-home healthcare professionals for more than about 100 days.
  3. Medicaid (Medi-Cal) – Medicaid , or Medi-Cal here in California, is used by those with great financial need, and you must apply and qualify for the benefits.  Many people are shocked when their attorney explains that Medicaid is not actually available to everyone, and if you have too many assets (even including a modest home or a few thousand dollars in the bank), you may not qualify at all.  If you are hoping to qualify for Medi-Cal, however, you must prepare several years in advance to protect your assets.
  4. Long-Term Care Insurance – This type of insurance can help to cover or offset the costs associated with long-term care, such as an in-home healthcare workers or nursing home care.  Policies can be somewhat confusing and expensive, so it’s highly recommended to work with an Newport Beach elder attorney when reviewing potential policies to ensure you understand them and are getting what you expect.

There are many issues to take into consideration when planning for your future, and long-term care is undoubtedly one of the most important.  Working with an elder care attorney in Newport Beach means that you will understand the options that are available to you and how they apply according to state and federal law.

If you have questions or need help getting started, please feel free to call our Orange County estate, elder and probate law firm at (949) 260-1400 and ask to schedule a free Family Wealth Planning Session with the mention of this article.  Availability for these sessions is limited to 10 families per month, so call today!