Elder law -- don't lose your life savings in a nursing home

It takes decades of hard work and saving money to have enough financial security to retire. That idea of financial security might not be as stable as some think, though. Living expenses are not static throughout life, so one's needs before and after retirement can be vastly different. Something as common as moving into a nursing home or long-term care facility might be all it takes to quickly eat up someone's life savings. Taking the time to better understand elder law may be helpful for someone in Lake Charles who is nearing or already in retirement.

A 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey shows that the average semi-private nursing home room cost $7,513 per month that year. On average, a private room cost $8,517. This monthly expense is far higher than what most people expect to pay in rent or on their mortgage and force some to make difficult decisions -- deplete their life's savings or forgo necessary care?

There is a better solution than choosing between two undesirable outcomes. An irrevocable trust can protect someone's assets -- including retirement savings -- and help him or her qualify for Medicaid, which can help cover the cost of a nursing home. Assets held in that trust are not technically part of someone's estate, although one may still benefit from them. It is important to place enough assets into the trust to qualify for Medicaid, which does have an income limit in Louisiana.

Medicaid also uses a five-year look-back period. If a Lake Charles resident puts assets into a trust or "spends down" those assets, then applies for Medicaid less than five years later, he or she will not qualify for benefits. Foresight is very important when it comes to elder law, especially considering the likelihood of unexpected expenses. 

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