When is the Right Time to Start Long-Term Care Planning?

Elderly couple purchasing life insurance

If there is a reasonable chance that long-term care is on the horizon, the time is now!

One of the services I provide is the long-term care planning consultation. Often, these are “crisis planning” situations. That is, families are suddenly and (sometimes) unexpectedly facing the need for long-term care for a spouse or parent, and are in a panic about how to pay for it.

According to Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the median rate for nursing home care in Georgia is $5,565 per month. The Georgia Department of Community Health has determined the state average to be around $5,900 per month, and prices in metro Atlanta tend to skew higher. Note that this is for a semi-private room (read: 2 patients per room). The median cost for Assisted Living Care in Georgia is $2,880, and can get up to $6,840 or more per month. Finally, in my experience, full-time in-home care is the most expensive, running around $20/hour, or $14,880 per month. So, clients’ anxieties about the cost of care are often justified.

Payment sources for long-term care are limited. Other than paying out-of-pocket, the three sources are long-term care insurance, VA Pension benefits, and Medicaid. Both the VA Pension and Medicaid are means-tested, so certain financial requirements must be met for eligibility.

While an elder law attorney has a number of tools that may help an individual in need obtain eligibility for the VA Pension and/or Medicaid benefits without becoming completely impoverished, advanced planning is crucial. The more years we have between the planning and the onset of long-term care, the more opportunities we have.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you have a loved one who may need long-term care in the next five to ten years, consider learning about planning options now.

Isn’t that a great picture of me with my clients?? Just kidding, that’s not me. Image © Gajus – Fotolia.com

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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