While most seniors have executed a Last Will or Revocable Living Trust, the majority haven’t taken steps to protect their life savings from the significant costs of future care – either at home or in a nursing home.
(PRWEB) December 09, 2013
In a study published earlier this year, the RAND Corporation estimated the monetary cost of dementia in the United States to be between $150 billion and $215 billion annually. These figures, according to the study, are expected to double by 2040. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, managing partner at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y., addressed the implications of the rising costs of dementia for Westchester County, advising seniors to take a proactive role in planning for their future.
Traditionally, most individuals suffering from advanced dementia and/or other Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s related illnesses in Westchester County were treated in nursing homes. Over the last decade, however, there has been a significant shift from this model of care to one with greater emphasis upon “aging in place.” Today, more and more of these individuals are receiving care either at home, in an assisted living facility or in a continuing care retirement community for longer periods of time.
“Regardless of the housing option chosen, the need will still exist for significantly larger numbers of trained health care providers to attend to a growing aging population that is living longer,” said Enea, who has spent three decades protecting the rights of Westchester’s senior and disabled populations. “Westchester will require more physicians trained in geriatric medicine, qualified home care providers and aides, assisted living facilities and even nursing homes within the next 20-30 years.”
Enea continued, “While most seniors have executed a Last Will or Revocable Living Trust, the majority haven’t taken steps to protect their life savings from the significant costs of future care – either at home or in a nursing home.”
In Westchester County, the average private cost of 24/7 care at home is $7,000 to $10,000 per month. This is significantly less expensive than the cost of a nursing home, which is typically $385.00 to $425.00 per day ($140,525 to $155,125 per year). While future figures remain uncertain, costs have consistently increased annually at double-digit percentages in past years.
“Fortunately there are a number of planning options available to seniors which will allow them to shelter their assets from the cost of care such as gifting of assets, utilizing an Irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, and/or purchasing long term care insurance,” Enea said. “Implementing these options prior to needing care is imperative, however, to avoid potentially devastating financial consequences.”
If one is financially and categorically eligible, the federal/state program providing care for seniors either at home or in a nursing home is Medicaid – a “means tested” entitlement program that looks at both the resources (savings) and income of the senior to determine eligibility. A senior who is single is not allowed to have more than $14,400 of savings and no more than $800 or $820 per month of income to be eligible. However, spouses are permitted to transfer assets to each other to help meet the financial eligibility requirement.
Various concepts to limit the financial exposure of seniors and the government to the cost of long term care have been proposed over the years without much success. “While from time to time novel ideas are proposed, in reality seniors only have two truly effective advance planning options – purchase long term care insurance and/or transfer a portion of their assets to an Irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or to their loved ones,” said Enea.
The transfer of assets to a trust will create a five-year look back period (ineligibility period) for purposes of Medicaid nursing home eligibility. Once the five years have elapsed, however, the assets transferred will not be counted as available resources.
Recently named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the 2013 Above the Bar Awards, Anthony J. Enea is the immediate past president of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section. His practice areas include Elder Law; Medicaid Planning and Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships and Estate Litigation.
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano online at http://www.esslawfirm.com.
About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder law; Medicaid Planning, Applications and Law; Medicare Law; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors and the disabled. Visit the firm online at http://www.esslawfirm.com and http://www.westchesterseniors.com.