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Is Having a Will and an Estate Plan Enough for Long Term Care?

by David Cutner, Elder Law Expert
June 12, 2015

Question: I have a Will and an estate plan. How will they be affected if I need long-term care?

Answer: A Will and an estate plan is not a plan for long-term care. If you are planning to private pay for care, or if you have adequate long-term care insurance, you can probably leave your plans in place.
However, if the costs of long-term care will deplete your life's savings or jeopardize your home, you may want to consider the advantages of applying for Medicaid. Most people are surprised to find out that, with proper planning, they can qualify for Medicaid benefits.

If you decide to apply for Medicaid, you will likely have to create a new plan, with the assistance of an Elder Law attorney. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you may need to transfer your assets to an irrevocable trust, create a private annuity, or engage in another strategy that is appropriate to your situation. 

Your Will can remain in place under any plan. It will control any assets that remain in your name when you pass on. Of course, assets that have been transferred to a trust, or are non-probate assets (such as a bank account with a designated beneficiary) will not be controlled by your Will.  Oftentimes, with a good Medicaid plan, there is nothing left to probate under the Will, thereby avoiding the costs and inconvenience of court proceedings. Your trust, and other planning you have done, will assure that your heirs or beneficiaries receive the same bequests they would have received under your original estate plan.

David Cutner is one of the founders of Lamson & Cutner, P.C., a preeminent Elder Law firm in New York City and Westchester County. Mr. Cutner is known as an experienced and compassionate advocate for the elderly and disabled. Personal attention to the financial and health care needs of each client, and accurate, individualized advice, are hallmarks of the firm. Mr. Cutner helps clients achieve their goals in a cost-effective way.

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