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Fifty percent of us who live to age 65 will spend some amount of time in long-term nursing care

Estate Planning

The idea of "estate planning" is often accompanied by many questions and misconceptions. What will happen to all my "stuff" when I pass away? Does my spouse automatically get everything? If I don't have a last will and testament will the state take my property? What happens if I become incapacitated before I pass away? Who makes medical decisions for me if I can't? What happens to my estate if I go into a nursing home?

Every estate plan is as unique as the person and their property involved. Every person has specific concerns and desires. The desire to provide for a surviving spouse is common as well as the desire to pass on wealth to children. Sometimes special care needs to be taken to protect assets over time for heirs.

Incapacitation resulting in a state-imposed guardianship can have burdensome and disastrous consequences for care-giving family members. With proper planning incapacitation does not have to result in a guardianship administered by the state.
If you own property titled in your name (deeded real property, accounts in your name only, etc.), these titled assets will be part of your probate estate after you pass away, whether you have a last will and testament or not. If you have a will, then you have written down your wishes about how your estate is distributed. If you don't have a will, then the state has one for you that may or may not distribute your estate in the manner you wish.

So at the very least, you would be well served to have a last will and testament and the proper powers of attorney and medical directives appointing the person you desire to make decisions for you if you cannot do it for yourself.

Nursing Home Planning

Every American who lives to age 65 has a 1 in 2 chance of spending some time in long-term nursing home care. So either you or your spouse, statistically, will spend time in a nursing home if you live long enough.

How much does it cost? The average cost for long term nursing care in Florida for private payers is $9,171.00. That is $110,052.00 per year. This can put a serious dent in your life savings. How do we plan for such an event? People who can afford and qualify for it may buy long-term care insurance. It is typically expensive and difficult to qualify.

Did you know that part of the taxes taken out of your income was used to fund insurance to pay for nursing home care? Did your government representative explain to you how to receive those benefits? I didn't think so.

How do you access these benefits? YOU MUST PLAN AHEAD. If you wait until the day you enter the nursing home to do any planning then you are too late. You must put knowledge into action and create your estate plan at least 5 years before you or your spouse enter the nursing home. You can set up a trust structure to protect your assets from spend down that will also protect your assets after you have passed away.

Why does my estate need protecting after I have passed away? If you qualify for nursing home benefits (with or without spending down your assets), any probate estate you have would be subject to estate recovery. What this means is that your home valued at $200,000.00 that was not counted against your for qualification purposes is subject to a lien by the State of Florida. Simply put, if the state spends $150,000.00 on your care they can place a lien on your probate estate to recover that amount after you have passed away. This means that when your heirs sell the home you left to them they must pay back the state $150,000.00 that the state spent on your nursing home care.

Do you know which of your resources are countable and which are not? Do you know what the Community Spouse Resource Allowance is? Do you know what estate recovery is? We at Astl Law PLLC have nearly20 years of educating, empowering and helping our clients implement estate plans that address their concerns and protect them from the potentially exorbitant costs associated with long-term nursing home care.

If you have questions about estate planning or nursing home planning, give us a call at (813) 279-6699. We will be glad to discuss a plan that works best for you.

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