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Long-Term Care, Medicaid/Medicare & Elder Law

Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney : Coral Gables, Miami & South Florida

Elder law is an aspect of estate planning that focuses primarily on the changing needs of people as they age. Issues of aging include senior housing and home care, long-term care, or nursing home care, guardianships, health care documents, Medicare planning, and Medicaid planning.

Senior Housing & Long-Term Care Options

The Long Term Care Dilemma

As our population ages, more and more people will confront elder law-related issues. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance or Medicare. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $150,000 a year, with the average cost in Florida being about $76,000 per year. The average nursing home stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted. At that point, then they may qualify for Medicaid benefits and have Medicaid pay for continued nursing home care.

Careful planning can help you avoid spending down your assets on long-term care. For example, you might avoid spending down your assets by purchasing long-term care insurance and by making sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare

Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9% of nursing home care in this country.

Florida Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, and each state implements its own regulations that govern how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare — it is a form of welfare. Medicaid eligibility is determined after an application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in Florida, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs. Information about Medicaid for long-term care in a nursing home or community setting can be found on the Florida Department of Children & Families website.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs provides a wealth of information for seniors and care givers.

We assist seniors and their families in making decisions regarding long-term care planning, including the exploration of Medicaid eligibility options.

Senior Housing Options

Moving to senior housing may be a daunting task. The death of a spouse or declining health and safety concerns may trigger the need for such a move. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime’s accumulation of personal belongings. Moreover, the emotional strain of moving from a comfortable home, coupled with the disappointment of the loss of independence, can be extremely difficult to deal with

Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:

  1. Plan ahead.
    Do not wait for a health crisis to start the transition process.
  2. Get a full assessment of the current situation.
    Reviewing any physical care needs and financial resources is a good place to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
  3. Take a step-by-step approach.
    People often take longer than a year to actually make a move to senior housing.
  4. Fully explore new housing options.
    Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.

Probate

Probate is one manner in which estate assets are transferred after death. Since probate can be a lengthy, costly and public process, many people choose to avoid it. Without proper probate avoidance planning, the state will require a probate court proceeding for state residents or those who owned assets in the state. During probate, assets are managed, debts are paid, tax returns are filed along with various court documents, and the estate assets are distributed.

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Estate Planning

In the absence of any planning to the contrary, your estate will be distributed according to Florida's laws of intestacy. This so-called "default" estate plan might not reflect your wishes. However, if you do plan in advance, you can have your estate administered according to your preferences. A comprehensive estate plan may include a Last Will and Testament, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives and Health Care Documents, all supporting your legal, personal, investment and tax planning purposes.

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Elder Law

As our population ages, more and more people will confront elder law-related issues. Elder law is an aspect of estate planning that focuses primarily on the changing needs of people as they age. Careful planning can help you avoid spending down your assets on long-term care. Issues include senior housing and home care, long-term care, or nursing home care, guardianships, health care documents, Medicare planning, and Medicaid planning.

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TSouth Florida Estate Planning Attorney Brian C. Perlin, assists clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate Court, Probate & Estate Administration, Long-Term Care, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Benefits, Charitable Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Tax Planning, Business Succession and Asset Protection, in the cities of Miami, Coral Gables, and Kendal, Florida, and the surrounding areas.

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