In recent blog posts, we discussed the importance of talking to your parents about their nursing home and estate planning strategies. This step is critical to making sure your parents have the care they need in their later years and that their assets are transferred according to their wishes.
However, the most significant problem with talking about estate planning and late life care issues is that people don't do it until it's too late. Too many people continue to procrastinate having this conversation. Then, when nursing home care becomes necessary, for example, they are not prepared and they end up losing significant assets as a result.
Early involvement is your key to success
Early involvement is the most important aspect of estate planning and late-life care planning, especially when a stay in a nursing home could be part of the equation.
For many people, the financial help provided by Medicaid is the only way to afford nursing home care. However, any assets transferred in the five years before applying for Medicaid will count against the overall level of financial help received.
This five-year period, called the "look-back period" can result in a serious loss for people who have not prepared well in advance. It is most important to work with an attorney to transfer any assets you plan to transfer before this look back period.
This means you need to make these transfers more than five years before you think you might apply for Medicaid assistance.
There are other complicated legal rules and regulations surrounding Medicaid and all aspects of estate planning and late life care planning. Make sure you talk with an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate these complications and protect your financial interests.