Have you planned for long-term care? According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, there are certain facts that are important to know concerning aging and elder law.
- Forty Percent (40%) of Sixty-Five (65) year olds may end up in a nursing home type care;
- Two-thirds (2/3) of the elderly requiring long-term care would be impoverished in a year;
- Eighteen Thousand (18,000) nursing homes are Eighty Percent (80%) full;
- Nine (9) out of Ten (10) nursing homes are understaffed;
- The top for prescription drugs can average $1,100.00;
- The population of elderly numbered 35 million in 2000 but such population will double by the year 2030; and
- According to the Department of Health and Human Resources the average cost of skilled nursing home care is $4,800.00 per month.
In concerning long-term care, important issues in planning are:
- Plan where you will live;
- Plan what you will do;
- Plan what care will be available; and
- Who will provide such care.
The North Carolina Bar Association estimates that approximately Seventy Percent (70%) of our elders have failed to establish any form of long-term care plan. While this is a large percentage, I often remind folks that even Chief Justice, Warren Berger of the United States Supreme Court died several years ago having failed to make any meaningful estate plan documents. However, if simple preventative steps are taken by planning then disaster can be avoided.
The first planning document to assist in long-term care is the Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney. These simple documents will appoint an agent to act on your behalf when suffering from incapacitation or incompetence. If no Power of Attorney exists then the only option left in making decisions is through guardianship. Guardianship is a court governed procedure which is costly, time consuming, and a difficult and humbling task wherein family members must testify to a loved one's incompetency in a public hearing.
Planning carefully also means establishing Wills and/or Trusts which distributes property to family with little loss of assets due to taxes, probate, or Medicaid. Due to the apparent increase in North Carolina's attempts to recover monies from the State's Medicaid payments rendered, more States will become subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery Law. Good planning in this case should consider not only the impact in Medicaid Eligibility Requirement during one's lifetime but also the effect of Medicaid Estate Recovery Program on the estate when the recipient dies.