According to the “National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care,” the average cost per month in an assisted living facility in Dallas is $3,352.00 (as of 2011). That’s $40,224 per year. A Genworth Financial study says the average cost nationally for assisted living per month is $3,628 ( as of May, 2016). Even if those numbers are on the high side–that’s a lot of money for most of us.
The good news is that a little long-term care planning can go a long way. One option to consider is long-term care insurance. Not as many insurance providers offer long-term care insurance as a while back (they lost a lot of money on these policies). However, some insurers still provide the insurance, and it’s definitely worth making some phone calls.
If it’s too late to buy long-term care insurance, many people consider some sort of Medicaid planning. Medicaid is a partnership program between the federal government and the State of Texas. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is “means-tested,” which means Medicaid looks at the individual’s assets and income to determine eligibility. In other words, if it appears on paper that you can afford to pay for your assisted living, then Medicaid is not going to pick up the tab.
However, an applicant for Medicaid cannot simply give away all of his/her assets in order to meet the financial eligibility requirements. Medicaid has a transfer restriction so that people won’t just give away their property to become eligible.
So, what is Medicaid planning? How do you plan for Medicaid? Many “elder law” attorneys offer clients legal ways to meet the financial eligibility requirements. For example, although the individual can’t just give away property to become eligible, elder law lawyers can help set up trusts for this purpose. You may have heard of a “Miller’s Trust.” With a Miller’s Trust, the income the individual is receiving (from retirement accounts, etc.) will be redirected to the trust instead of going directly to the individual. In this way, on paper anyway, the individual is not receiving as much income, thereby helping make the individual eligible for Medicaid.
You may also have heard of a Ladybird Deed (“Lady Bird Deed”). A Ladybird Deed is a specialized type of deed which can be used to help with Medicaid eligibility. Let’s say an individual seeking Medicaid eligibility has a home in Dallas and a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. With a ladybird deed, the individual seeking Medicaid eligibility transfers ownership of the ranch (on paper, anyway) to someone else. Having done that, on paper, the individual no longer owns the ranch and is therefore potentially eligible for Medicaid. However, the Ladybird Deed is specialized in the sense that the transferring individual retains certain rights in the property (like the right to possess the property) so long as the individual is alive. I will discuss the Ladybird Deed in a future post, because I do think it is a useful elder law tool.
The Richardson lawyer at Shutt Law Firm, PLLC, Isaac Shutt, is an estate planning attorney and elder law attorney in the North Dallas area. Mr. Shutt can assist with Medicaid law, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Trusts, and Lady Bird Deeds.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on Texas trusts, estate planning, probate, probate alternatives, and guardianship or email email@example.com. You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this blog or to discuss a different legal matter. Phone-calls and quick e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC. Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you’re looking for a Richardson lawyer for probate, Richardson wills lawyer, estate planning attorney in Richardson, power of attorney in Richarson, or guardianship attorney in Richardson area. The law firm serves Dallas, Plano, Richardson, Frisco, Addison, McKinney, Lucas, Parker, Dallas County, and Collin County.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog post constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education. If you have a legal question, you should consult an attorney for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this blog shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until you sign an engagement letter with the Firm.