How will you handle nursing home costs?

Most of the nursing homes in Santa Clara County currently charge residents $11,000 to $12,000 per month. Are you prepared for that cost? How long will you or your loved one be there? Two months? Ten months? One year? Five years?

The longest stay I’m aware of is over 20 years. That’s a huge expense.

How will you pay? Private pay? Long term care insurance? Medi-Cal?

What most people do not know, is that there are elder law attorneys who specialize in Medi-Cal planning to protect the family assets. Those of us who practice in this area work to make the clients eligible for Medi-Cal benefits and protect the family assets so that they can be used for the benefit of the other spouse and then eventually pass to the heirs of the ill person.

Yes, it’s true that Medi-Cal will cover your long term care costs in a skilled nursing facility even if you own your house, but if you own the house at the time you die, the State of California will seek repayment of your benefits by placing a lien on your house. The residence is still protected after the Medi-Cal resident’s death if the surviving spouse is living there, but the State of California has been sending out “voluntary liens” to the surviving spouse. If he or she is confused after the death of their spouse, and they happen to sign the lien without a full understanding of the result, the house will be encumbered with a lien from the state.

If you have a family member or close friend in a nursing home, or you think that a nursing home may be in their future, get some expert legal advice for proper planning. In one case I handled, the entire value of the house would have gone to the state, and now it will pass to the two children of the nursing home resident.

Know your rights and seek proper legal expertise to help guide you in establishing the right estate plan for your family. Your family will be grateful you did.