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Elder Law: Helping You Plan For What Matters Most

With the costs of long-term care increasing all the time, having the help of a legal professional when planning for your family’s future can help you keep more of your money and make better decisions. At Marks Elder Law, we help families understand the strategies and risks involved with elder law and estate planning. Our Pittsburgh elder law attorneys have decades of experience helping families better understand the options they have for their future.

Strategies For Keeping More Of Your Assets

Getting older does not have to mean your property and estate fall to ruin. While long-term care can be expensive, Marks Elder Law can help our clients make the choices that help them stay in control of their property.

We can help you to ensure that:

  • You receive the health care and other services you or your loved ones need
  • Costs of care are kept to a minimum
  • You and your family keep as much of your own money as possible

By taking care of general estate planning needs such as wills, powers of attorney, family agreements, contracts, deeds, and other legal needs, you can ensure that beneficiaries will receive what you intended. By avoiding probate, your assets become less likely to be recovered by Medicaid following a family member’s death.

Payment Options For Long-Term Care Services

Your long-term care does not have to be paid from personal assets. At Marks Elder Law, we help our clients understand better strategies to pay for care.

Two kinds of benefits to fund long-term care are:

  • Veterans’ Administration “Aid and Attendance” – Qualifying veterans whose care costs exceed their monthly income may be eligible for around $2,000 monthly, with their widows being eligible for around $1,000 monthly.
  • Medicaid – This needs-based coverage can fund nursing home care and sometimes in-home care depending on a person’s eligibility. Determining eligibility is complex. It is in your best interest to speak with a qualified elder law attorney before moving forward.

Protect Assets From Medicaid Spend-Down Requirements

To avoid having to spend all your assets before Medicaid will start to pay for you, it is important to turn available resources like cash into exempt protected assets.

Protected assets can include:

  • Equity in your home
  • An automobile (or auto repair or upgrade)
  • An irrevocable burial trust account, which cannot be accessed during your lifetime
  • Cash of a certain amount
  • Prepay expenses such as insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.
  • Home expenses, repairs, appliances or paying off a mortgage

There are other, more sophisticated ways to protect assets as well. By speaking with a Pittsburgh elder law lawyer, you can better understand how to plan for long-term care and other potential late-life expenses in such a way that you can continue life as usual without worrying about being able to afford care.

Some other ways to secure your estate include:

  • Gifts and annuities – For a single, unmarried person, a popular solution is to gift about half of your assets, then use the other half to buy a Medicaid-qualified immediate annuity. This annuity can be used to pay for care until Medicaid kicks in.
  • Asset protection trust – A trust can be used to indirectly own assets so they will not be counted for Medicaid purposes. Other trust benefits result, too.
  • Spousal annuity – Married couples can protect assets from the cost of care for the ill spouse with a Medicaid-qualified annuity.
  • Personal care agreement – By paying for care to a caregiver under a written agreement, Medicaid would not consider that transfer of value to have been a gift.
  • Exempt transfers – Assets transferred to certain recipients – like a spouse, disabled child, or trust for a disabled child – will not be penalized by Medicaid.
  • Life estate – Buying a life estate interest in someone else’s home can allow a transfer of wealth without making a gift for Medicaid purposes.

Interested in speaking with a Pittsburgh elder law attorney? Call 412-415-7586 now.

How Does Medicare Differ from Medicaid?

Medicare is a federal government program that works with Social Security to pay for doctors, hospitals and prescription drugs. Medicare only pays for temporary stays in a nursing home for rehabilitation or recovery after an illness or injury – not long-term custodial care.

Medicaid for long-term care is a state and federal government program for people who cannot pay for their nursing care. Eligibility for Medicaid is based on medical necessity and on your assets and income, and it can pay for long-term nursing home care or nursing care at home. At Marks Elder Law, our planning is often directed toward Medicaid eligibility to pay for nursing care.

Will My Kids Have To Pay For My Care?

Those not eligible for Medicaid benefits may rely on their children to help pay for care from their own assets and savings. In Pennsylvania, nursing homes sometimes sue children to pay for their parent’s care. Planning so that nursing homes get paid for care is the best way for children to avoid liability.

Is There Long-Term Care Insurance?

Yes. Purchasing this insurance is less expensive if purchased sooner, and varies in price depending on your age, the benefit amount, and duration of benefits. There are other features that can add to the cost as well, such as inflation protection and return of premiums.

Will My Estate Be Taken To Pay For Care?

Not likely with proper advanced planning. Most often, money is only taken following the Medicaid patient’s death from probate assets. Non-probate assets designated as in the methods above are not subject to Medicaid’s claim for reimbursement.

How Much Can A Couple Keep?

To receive Medicaid benefits for a spouse in long-term care, the spouse still living at home may keep one half of the available resources, subject to a minimum and a maximum. To maximize savings, get the help of an experienced elder law attorney.

Can I Stay At Home Instead Of In A Nursing Home?

Most people wish to remain at home, so the Government in recent years has been moving toward funding home- and community-based services. This solution helps people stay in their homes and costs everyone less.

Schedule A Free Elder Law Consultation Today

The first step to address any elder law matter is to speak with a qualified attorney who can help you understand your options. Call Marks Elder Law now for a free consultation. Just dial 412-415-7586 or contact us online. Our office is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.