How to Avoid Nursing Home Costs: Planning Ahead

The average annual cost for long-term care in Michigan last year was just under $88,000 for a semi-private room. For most retirees, that’s a stifling figure that far surpasses their income. In the most recent 2010 census, average retiree income was reported at just under $26,000 annually. For retirees hoping to leave money to their families, this creates a disparity between the legacy they dreamed they’d leave behind and the actual funds that remain. However, knowing how to plan for long-term care can help retirees leave more assets for their loved ones. The first step is keeping close track of one’s assets.

So When Should I Start Planning?

Life is unexpected, so it’s better to plan earlier than later. If you’re already retired, your assets are likely dwindling already. For a Medicaid application for long-term care, applicants are asked to verify transfers of assets for the past five years. A lot can happen to your health and well-being in five years, so you need to take care in documenting when and where your money goes.

So What Should I Keep?

Bank Records: Most banks have an online record of account transactions, but some only allow a client to access records for the past 12 months, or other limited period. Keeping bank statements on file will be helpful in providing documentation of any transfers.

Life Insurance Policies: For a Medicaid application, you will need complete copies of any life insurance policies. Also, keep records of the current cash surrender value you might receive.

Real Property: Keep deeds for any property bought or sold, including the home you live in and any property in which you may have a life estate or  remainder interest.

Funeral Planning: Any pre-paid funeral agreements, funeral trusts, and documentation of burial plots or mausoleum contracts.

Retirement Accounts: Any other 401ks, IRAs, or annuities need to be well-documented for your application.

Documentation of Income: Although you won’t need to have income for the past five years, you should hold onto documents showing your current retirement income and any recent changes to the monthly amount you receive.

Because of the amount of information needed for a Medicaid application, one can feel as though they’re being audited. However, planning ahead and keeping documents organized will help you and your legal team get the most out of your savings.

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