It is easy to underestimate the cost of long-term care. Many people hope to remain in their homes and avoid the need for a nursing home or care facility. Some believe that their children, or friends or neighbors will be able to compensate for the things they lose to age. The truth is that health is an uncertain proposition the older we get. No one wants to suffer from dementia, loss of mobility, loss of cognitive function or other medical issues connected to getting older. That doesn’t make those problems any less real.

Depending on the level of care provided and location, long-term care facilities can cost several hundred dollars per day. An estate can be depleted quickly if the person receiving care has not planned ahead. While children cannot be held directly responsible for these costs unless they choose to be, they can still be deprived of family heirlooms, childhood homes and other property they hoped to inherit and pass on to their children in turn. Estate planning can often protect these assets, but only when done correctly and in a timely manner.

Looking back

Programs like Medicaid are restricted to those who do not have the assets to pay for their own care. In New York, investigators can look back five years into an applicant’s financial past to make sure they haven’t distributed assets that could have been used to pay for care. Someone who attempts to protect a home or other asset by selling it to a child for less than market value can be barred from accessing Medicaid benefits. There are methods that can protect a person’s legacy without interfering with benefits, but they must be put in place in the proper way.

There is no time to lose in establishing an estate plan that can protect you and your family for the future. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to make sure that your long-term care is provided for before you need it.