There are ways that an elder law attorney can sometimes save a senior’s money to be used for better care and “extras” even when a senior must inevitably look to public benefits such as Medicaid (called TennCare here in Tennessee) for help in paying for long term care. The potential savings are especially helpful when a senior is married and the spouse at home (called the “community spouse”) needs help to avoid being utterly impoverished by paying the nursing home bills for the “institutionalized spouse.”
In addition, more than 40 percent of our seniors are veterans or the spouses of deceased veterans. In the right medical and financial circumstances, veterans or their surviving spouses can qualify for benefits which, when added to Social Security income, can make all the difference in affording home care or assisted living.
The family that waits until all the money is gone loses some options. First, they lose the ability to retain a lawyer to help them navigate this complex and ever-changing regulatory environment. Second, they lose the ability to take advantage of some choices they could otherwise have made. There is no longer an option, for example, of putting some of the money into a trust for Mom or Dad and paying privately for care during a penalty period (caused by rules that penalize Medicaid recipients for gifts during the five-year “look back” period).
All-in-all, a consultation today is a better alternative than regret in three, four or five years.