Elder law encompasses a wide range of practice areas, including long-term care planning, conservatorships, Medi-Cal planning, veterans benefits, and essential estate planning. The primary goal of elder law is to ensure that you and your loved ones are adequately prepared for the medical, financial, and legal challenges you will face as you grow older.
Why is preparing for the high cost of long-term care so very important? Consider the following statistics:
- Seventy percent of Americans age 65 or older will require long-term care at some point in their lives
- In California, the median cost for care in a skilled nursing facility is over $100,000 per year in 2018
- The cost of nursing home care is expected to rise dramatically in the future
- Approximately two out of every three families run out of money within two years of a family member entering a nursing home
With a properly designed and implemented plan, you can protect your life savings against the skyrocketing cost of long-term care. And, enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having an effective plan in place for whatever the future holds.
Long-term care insurance
Purchasing long-term care insurance provides some peace of mind in coping with the high cost of care. Unfortunately, this insurance is expensive and many families can’t afford it. Even those who can are often denied coverage because of their age or existing medical conditions. If you do have long-term care insurance, you should be aware of what your policy covers. Many policies have high deductibles or a waiting period before coverage will kick in. Given the cost of long-term care, it is not surprising that many people with long-term care insurance still need help from Medi-Cal to pay for the care they need.
Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) is the single largest payer of nursing home bills in America. While Medi-Cal eligibility with respect to long-term care was not overly restrictive in the past, there has been a steady drift towards more complex and limiting rules. Qualifying for assistance from Medi-Cal is no longer as easy as reviewing one’s bank statements. There are a myriad of regulations involving look-back periods, transfer penalties, and waiting periods that must be taken into account.
Far too often, seniors wait until they fall ill and require care to seek the assistance of an estate planning or elder care attorney. Unfortunately, by waiting for a crisis, seniors and their caregivers often encounter more hurdles for qualification and high levels of stress during an already difficult time. As estate planning attorneys serving Santa Barbara and beyond, we assist clients with Medi-Cal pre-planning. This involves developing a long-term care plan that seeks to protect assets through traditional estate planning strategies by using asset protection tools such as irrevocable trusts while coordinating private insurance, veterans benefits, and other resources that may be available to pay for future care. Through pre-planning, you can obtain the care you need without losing your life savings.
Helping you qualify for Medi-Cal
Even if you haven’t taken time to plan for Medi-Cal eligibility, there are a number of ways to qualify. We assist clients who are just starting the process as well as those who need to qualify immediately. In these situations, we work directly with seniors, caregivers, geriatric care managers, social workers, care facilities, and healthcare providers to identify the best environment for your ongoing care. We work with you to complete the Medi-Cal application, and when necessary, “spend down to qualify” in a way that won’t consume all of your hard-earned assets.
We can help you avoid the financial ruin associated with the high cost of long-term care. Contact us today to learn more about the issues surrounding Medi-Cal eligibility and to begin the planning and application process.