How do I avoid paying everything I own to the nursing home is a question I am asked by many of my clients either as they begin the process of looking at long term care options, or as a family member begins looking at the long term care process.  While each client’s situation is different, the issues contained in this question are addressed by the field of elder law.

With a society that is living longer than ever before, our population is finding itself facing new issues as it ages.  Estate planning, disability, health care, retirement, taxes, and financial planning are all areas that need to be addressed the older we get.  One of the main issues we face is the cost of long term care.

I practice primarily in the St. Louis, Missouri area.  I know from talking to my clients that the costs of nursing homes in my area are between $6,000 to $8,000 per month for one person. Depending on what needs you have and what community you want to live in, those costs can reach upward of $13,000 per month and sometimes more.  Some of my clients have the money to pay these expenses, but most of my clients don’t, which leads them to ask me “How do I avoid paying everything I own to the nursing home?”

Elder law is the process of educating and presenting planning options that apply to a senior’s unique problems. Elder law planning can involve qualifying a client for VA benefits to help offset some of the costs of care, or arranging one’s affairs so that Medicaid can help pay for a nursing home stay. Medicaid and VA planning involves working with the laws to set aside assets to help pay for nursing home care, and to pay for things not covered by Medicaid such as caregivers, hearing aids, beauty shop visits, televisions, clothes, shoes, and other personal items; while at the same time preserving as much as possible for the person’s spouse and children.

Many individuals don’t want to face these issues until faced with a long term care crisis, that’s normal. But planning for these events before they happen will oftentimes give us a better result than planning during a crisis, plus it will be much less stressful.  If you or a loved one are facing a long term care crisis, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified elder law attorney as soon as possible.

Written by Brian G. Quinn, Attorney with Quinn Estate & Elder Law