Nefarious individuals who are looking for easy marks typically target people who they perceive to be vulnerable. For this reason, senior citizens are often in the cross hairs of scam artists of every ilk, and this is something that is a big problem within the elder law community.
Elder financial abuse results in billions of dollars in losses each year, and a very significant of percentage of seniors are victimized.
When people who you do not know are asking you to part with your money, a red flag should go up. Senior citizens will often engage strangers on the phone, at the front door, or over the Internet because they are lonely and they enjoy the attention.
We all know that something that sounds too good to be true most definitely is, and this does not change when you attain senior citizen status. Unfortunately, age can take its toll, and your ability to detect would-be abusers can diminish over time.
Con artists and scam perpetrators are not the only dangers. In a lot of instances, the abuser is a family member and sometimes “friends,” neighbors, and helpers can abuse elderly individuals. This too is something to be aware of, and honest family members should look out for their elders with this type of thing in mind.
The above phenomenon is at the root of another amazing but disturbing statistic. It has been estimated that just one in 40 cases of elder financial abuse is actually reported to authorities. In large part, this is because the victims do not want to get the perpetrators into trouble.
Many elders also keep quiet because they need the care that is being provided by these individuals. And of course, there are huge numbers of cases that are never reported because the people who are being exploited simply do not know that it is taking place for one reason or another.
There are some things that you can do to protect yourself in advance with the appropriate planning. We are here to help if you would like to discuss your options with a licensed elder law attorney.
Nursing Homes and Medicaid Planning
Uninformed people often assume that Medicare will cover all their health care needs when they reach the age of 65, but in fact, Medicare has its limits. There are out-of-pocket expenses for covered services, including deductibles, coinsurance, and monthly premiums.
They can be manageable depending on the circumstances, but you should explore the subject thoroughly on your own while you are planning ahead for your retirement years. You can visit the Medicare website to get all the details.
In addition to the above, Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you are going to have to make other arrangements.
Writing a check to pay for a stay in a nursing home is not a very pleasant prospect. Here in the Rochester area, you are looking at about $177,000 annually right now. That’s bad enough, and you can expect to pay considerably more if you need nursing home care in 20 years or so.
As a response, elder law attorneys will often recommend taking steps to obtain eligibility for Medicaid, a government program that does pay for long-term care. It takes very careful, informed planning to do this properly, because the rules are complex.
You are probably aware of the fact that Medicaid is a need-based program, so you cannot qualify if you have significant assets in your own name. It is possible to give your loved ones their inheritances in advance with Medicaid eligibility in mind, but both the manner and the timing of such gifts is key.
There is a five-year look back period, so the gift giving must be completed at least five years before you apply for coverage. If you violate this rule, your eligibility is delayed.
To explain the duration of the penalty by way of a simple example, we stated that the average cost for a year in a nursing home is $150,000. For the purposes of this example, let’s say that you gave away $150,000 twelve months before you applied for Medicaid coverage. Under these circumstances, your eligibility would be delayed by one year.
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