If you’re like many Ohioans, one of your biggest fears as you age is the possibility of needing to go into a nursing home one day. Not only is it hard to think of your own incapacity, but it’s stressful to think about how you will pay for the care you need. The average cost of a nursing home in Ohio is just over $6,000 a month. At that rate, your personal assets will be drained very quickly, and there will be nothing left to provide a legacy for your family. However, with skilled estate planning for long term care, you can protect some of your assets while getting the high-quality care you need and deserve.
Assistance Is Available in Ohio If You Qualify
Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay the cost of a nursing home. The truth is that Medicare only covers the first 100 days in a nursing home facility, and if you don’t have other resources to pay the bills, payments will stop on the 101st day, and you will be sent home.
One option that may be available to you to pay for the nursing home is Ohio Medicaid. If you have never been on Medicaid before, you might think it’s not for you. However, because Medicaid will allow you to keep your hard-earned assets and afford quality care, it turns out to be the best option for many people. With the help of an estate planning attorney, you can take advantage of this important program.
To qualify for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home in Ohio, you must meet these requirements:
- Medical necessity. You must undergo a health assessment to determine if it is medically necessary for you to receive a nursing home or institutional level of care. Additionally, you must require care for at least thirty consecutive days to be eligible.
- Asset limits. Medicaid is a need-based program, so there are limits on the amount of countable assets you can have in your name. Currently, in 2020, the asset limit for a single person is $2000. Countable assets include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, annuities, and retirement accounts. Exempt assets include your home, if you intend to return to it, one vehicle, and assets held in an asset protection trust, which your estate planning attorney can create for you.
- Income limits. Any income you receive, including a pension, Social Security, disability, and other sources, must total less than $2,350 per month (in 2020) for an individual. If your income exceeds this amount, there is a spend-down option offered in Ohio, and you might consider a Qualified Income Trust, both of which your estate planning attorney can help you understand.
The other important restriction on Medicaid eligibility is known as the five-year lookback. When considering your application for benefits, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), which operates Medicaid in Ohio, will go over your previous five years’ worth of transactions. Any assets you gave away or put into trust in that time period will be included in your countable assets, which could disqualify you for benefits. That is why it is important to start planning for your long-term care well before you actually need a nursing home.
We Help Older Clients Understand Their Estate Planning Options
At Littlejohn Law, we see ourselves as your estate planning attorneys for life. Our clients range in age from young newlyweds to seniors in nursing homes. When it is time to think about planning for your retirement and long-term care—an area of estate planning sometimes referred to as Elder Law—our team has the skills and experience to help you form a comprehensive plan. Contact us today to learn more.