It is possible to plan for long-term elder care by establishing a revocable living trust. This can be particularly beneficial for Medicaid planning.

When most people in Kansas and elsewhere begin to think about estate planning, their minds are on providing for their loved ones after they are gone. It is understandable and admirable to want to leave an inheritance for one’s heirs. However, what about the “golden years” before one passes away? What if there is an unexpected accident or illness that results in incapacitation and necessitates long-term care? It is an often overlooked aspect of estate planning to consider one’s own needs in terms of elder care, particularly if one ends up unable to make his or her own decisions.

A simple will may be sufficient to designate which assets and personal items go to family members. However, a trust may provide personalized instructions that go into effect before the creator’s death. According to Fidelity Investments, a revocable living trust may be especially suited to elder care planning. Trusts can provide a fully customized plan to suit each person’s unique needs and may provide certain protections, such as privacy and tax benefits.

What is a revocable living trust?

According to AARP, revocable living trusts designate a trustee to manage the property, funds and other assets of the creator’s estate. When the creator is alive, he or she is often the trustee. It is considered wise to designate a co-trustee or successor in the event the creator becomes incapacitated. These are called revocable trusts because while the creator is still alive and able to make decisions, the trust can be changed or revoked at will.

Many people appreciate the benefits of a living trust while doing their estate planning, because they know their interests can be looked after if they become disabled and unable to make decisions. Additionally, these trusts may help their loved ones avoid probate.

Can a special needs trust provide for my needs, especially regarding Medicaid and long-term care?

As an estate planning tool, special-needs trusts address the needs of one who is disabled and unable to make decisions or care for one’s self. Either a revocable living trust or a special-needs trust may be used when planning ahead for the possibility of long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

According to the National Care Planning Council, the costs of living in a nursing home are far more expensive than many families can afford. Medicaid may ease the burden for those who qualify. However, gifting funds directly to a disabled elder may cause him or her to be ineligible for Medicaid and other government services. Trust planning may protect a person’s Medicaid eligibility, while ensuring his or her daily needs are taken care of.

Medicaid planning and other aspects of elder estate planning may be complex. Therefore, it is often in one’s best interest to speak with a Gardner estate planning attorney who has experience in elder law.