Just as most people prefer not to think about their inevitable death, people often prefer not to dwell on the fact that they will eventually start showing physical and mental signs of the natural aging process. While dwelling on it may not be necessary, planning for it is if you wish to avoid losing your life savings to the high cost of long-term care. To understand why it is so important to plan ahead it helps to understand how nursing home costs can impoverish you and your spouse.
Statistically speaking, at age 65 there is an 80 percent likelihood that you will need long-term care at some point in your life. If you are married, that means you both have an 80 percent chance of needing long-term care during your “Golden Years”. The cost of that care could cause you to lose your life savings in what seems like the blink of an eye. In the State of South Carolina, for example, the average yearly cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $67,525. Moreover, the average length of stay in a nursing home is 2.5 years. When you do the math it means that the average cost of a nursing home stay is $168, 813 in South Carolina. Imagine if both you and your spouse need nursing home care?
As bad as those numbers may sound, it is often worse if only one spouse needs long-term care because the community spouse (the spouse who remains in the community) is frequently left with little in the way of income and virtually no useable assets. According to the Wall Street Journal, 86 percent of widows live at, or below, the poverty level because all of the couple’s assets are liquidated in an attempt to pay for the care of the deceased spouse prior to death. Don’t count on Medicare or private health insurance to help as Medicare does not cover long-term care except in very narrow circumstances and then only for 100 days and most private policies do not cover long-term care at all unless you purchased a separate long-term care policy.
All of these concerns can be addressed though by including Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan early on in life because Medicaid will cover long-term care costs. The early you start incorporating Medicaid planning strategies in your estate plan the better you will be able to protect your assets and ensure that you are eligible for Medicaid benefits when the time comes that you need them.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning or estate planning in general, contact the experienced South Carolina estate planning attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.