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Review long term care planning early and often

7/16/2015 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

When it comes to estate planning, many Pennsylvania residents focus exclusively on how to pass down wealth from one generation to another. While this is a valid concern, families must also consider how to integrate long term care planning into the greater estate planning approach. Doing so can help ensure that loved ones are able to secure the proper level of care if and when that time comes.

The cost of residential medical care continues to rise, and many families cannot afford to pay for these expenses out-of-pocket. Medicaid is the primary resource for those who need help covering the cost of nursing home or residential rehabilitation care. That said, there are a number of rules and restrictions that must be adhered to before Medicaid coverage will kick in.

Individuals or couples are expected to “spend down” their own assets before Medicaid coverage will begin. This leaves a family in a difficult position, as the bulk of accumulated wealth must be depleted in order to secure assistance. When one spouse dies and leaves the bulk of his or her assets to the surviving spouse, the end result can be the fast depletion of that wealth by paying for nursing home care.

A better approach is to place assets into an irrevocable trust, and name one’s spouse as a beneficiary. This gives him or her access to the wealth held within the trust, but protects those assets from creditors, lawsuits or the need to spend down existing wealth prior to qualifying for Medicaid. For those in Pennsylvania who are looking for long term care planning options, an irrevocable trust is well worth considering.

Source:, “Review estate plan often to protect beneficiaries“, Carissa Giebel, June 29, 2015