Did you know a Baby Boomer is a person who was born between 1946 and 1964?
This means the Boomer is now between the ages of 55 and 73. Unfortunately, the reality of the aging process is he or she could possibly be facing a greater potential need of skilled nursing home assistance in the future. While this is a future none of us want to contemplate at any time, it is important for Boomers to understand the possible need to pay for long-term care early on.
Perhaps the most concerning issue surrounds how Baby Boomers use their personal funds.
A well intended gift could both deprive them of the money they need to pay for care in the nursing home and penalize them in their attempt to access public benefits such as Medicaid. For example, did you know a Boomer’s choice to give money to help a child with unplanned family expenses or to help a grandchild with the high cost of college tuition could result in him or her being penalized for making a gift? This can be the exact situation the Boomer is facing if he or she makes gifts like these within five years of needing nursing home assistance, as there is a penalty for uncompensated transfers when applying for public benefits.
Gifts, or uncompensated transfers, are just one of the potential threats to the success of the application for public benefits. In these situations, the child or grandchild who received money from the Baby Boomer would likely need to be able to immediately repay the gift to avoid the application for public benefits being denied. Likewise, it is important that the Boomer who received a gift from an aging parent have ready access to cash to immediately repay the loan or gift.
How can Baby Boomers plan to provide for their loved ones and still maintain access to long-term care benefits?
One of the ways to do this successfully is to work with the Boomer’s elder law attorney to create a contract for services with a child or grandchild who is caring for the Baby Boomer at home or in a long-term care facility. Another way to effectively spend down excess resources is by purchasing non-countable assets.
Non-countable assets can include, but not be limited to, any of the following:
- A homestead having an equity interest less than state allowed amount after deducting the mortgage,
- A vehicle regardless of its age or value,
- The cash value of a whole life insurance policy having a face value of $2,500 or less,
- The full value of an irrevocable burial contract regardless of the amount contributed to the policy, and
- A $2,500 exclusion for the Boomer’s bank account that has been designated for burial expenses.
It is important for Baby Boomers to know that there are ways to successfully spend down their assets and still be eligible for nursing home expenses. While gifts, or uncompensated transfers, are just one of the potential threats to the success of the application for public benefits these are murky waters that need the guidance of an elder law attorney who understands the challenges Baby Boomers and their loved ones’ face. We encourage you not to wait to get the answers you need and to reach out to our office to schedule a meeting.