Clients frequently ask us if there is any way they can save their property from the nursing home. Clients usually have witnessed a friend or a loved one who has lost practically their entire savings and been forced to sell their family farm to help pay for the nursing home.
The real question in this scenario is whether we can help the client to develop a plan where the client will be able to go into the nursing home (at some point in the future) but will not be forced to spend all of their money or sell their family farm to pay for it. What we are really talking about is how we can shift assets out of a client’s name so that they may qualify for TennCare (Tennessee’s version of Medicaid, which will step in and pay for nursing home care if an individual qualifies both financially and medically) without having to “spend down” those assets.
There are different financial TennCare qualification rules for single individuals and married couples. The general rule for single individuals is that an individual may not financially qualify for TennCare to pay for their nursing home expenses until they have “spent down” their assets; the individual is typically allowed to keep their home (at least during their lifetime), their vehicle, and up to $2,000 cash. If the individual medically qualifies for TennCare to pay for their nursing home expenses, they will be required to spend their assets down to this limited amount in order to qualify for TennCare. This means they will have to pay for the nursing home privately (at an average cost of approximately $7,000 per month for skilled nursing care) until they have spent these assets down, at which time TennCare will step in and begin paying. Then, when the individual dies, TennCare is entitled to be reimbursed from the individual’s remaining assets for the costs the government incurred during the individual’s lifetime paying for those nursing home costs. You can see why clients are often interested in protecting their assets so that they have something to leave to their children or grandchildren when they die.
There is also a program available to qualifying Veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs called “Aid & Attendance.” Aid & Attendance will provide some financial assistance to qualifying veterans to contribute to your assisted living or nursing home expenses. Although we do not assist you in applying for this program, we can help you to identify if you may qualify for this program and provide the resources to you to assist you in the application process.
There are several techniques we employ for long-term care planning to assist our clients in protecting their assets. Which technique we choose, if any, will depend on the specifics of that person’s individual situation. We will only assist you with options that are legal and have been successful in the past.
If you are interested in consulting with us to see if there is anything we can do to protect your assets from the nursing home, please contact us to schedule a consultation. One of the most important things to remember is that the earlier you begin your long-term care planning, the more options are available to you; the longer you wait to plan for long-term care, the greater chance there won’t be anything we can do to protect your assets from the nursing home.