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Estate Planning and Long-Term Care: How Can Seniors Afford Skilled Nursing in Their Senior Years

elder care
May 9, 2024 • | Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC
High healthcare costs often do not align with the fixed income of older individuals, raising concerns about affordability and accessibility. We explore the need for long-term care, why Medicare and Medicaid are not long-term options, and estate planning to plan for skilled nursing care proactively.

As we age, the need for long-term care becomes more of a what and when than an if. High health care costs do not align with an older individual's fixed income, raising concerns about affordability and accessibility. The right estate planning tools can help alleviate those concerns and prepare you for the long-term care you may need and prefer in your senior years. Based on Central Trust Company's article "The Long-Term Care Quandary: Paying for Skilled Nursing Care," we explore the need for long-term care, why Medicare is not a long-term option, and estate planning to plan for skilled nursing care proactively.

The Need For Long-Term Care: Why is Affordability a Concern For Most Seniors?

Needing long-term care is a reality for most of the aging population. Individuals 65 or older are 70 percent more likely to require long-term care services, which has significant financial implications. Fixed income from Social Security, retirement account distributions, or pensions may typically cover living expenses and minor health care costs but may not cover living expenses in a care facility. The average length of stay and monthly fees of skilled nursing facilities highlight affordability concerns for the aging population. Many aging adults face the challenge of bridging the gap between their income and long-term care costs and consider Medicaid options.

Why Medicare is Not a Long-Term Care Solution

Medicare is not a long-term solution. Contrary to popular belief, Medicare's limitations affect long-term care coverage, rendering it a short-term solution. Medicare's hospital and rehabilitation insurance coverage is narrow for a fixed number of days. Coverage starts once an individual meets requirements that include daily professional care. 

Understanding Medicare's limitations highlights the necessity for alternative financial strategies to effectively cover long-term care costs. Medicaid is a critical safety net for individuals with limited resources for long-term care expenses. Medicaid eligibility criteria, including income and asset thresholds, determine access to benefits. Consult with an elder law attorney to develop a solid Medicaid strategy to preserve assets, navigate the approval process, and potentially supplement your income.

How Can Estate Planning Help Plan for Long-Term Care?

Given high costs, limited income, and few supplemental options, seniors can turn to estate planning and elder law strategies to proactively plan for their long-term care. Estate planning that addresses expenses and assistance program eligibility can build, protect, and preserve the wealth needed to afford skilled nursing care. Working with an experienced elder law attorney who can anticipate challenges and provide tools such as irrevocable trusts puts you on a path toward improved financial security and long-term care.  At Curran Estate & Elder Law in Berks County, Pennsylvania, we can help preserve assets for the healthy spouse or children of a single spouse with various techniques; thus ensuring that not all of an elder's hard-earned assets are depleted by paying for long-term care.

Key Long-Term Care Takeaways:

  • Look Ahead: Anticipate long-term care needs and create an estate planning strategy.
  • Understand Medicaid: Familiarize yourself with Medicaid eligibility.
  • Consult a Professional: Seek guidance from an experienced elder law attorney to navigate complex estate planning issues and preserve assets.


As long-term care needs increase and costs rise, estate planning strategies to grow and preserve your money become a top priority. A proactive plan can prepare you for long-term care in a skilled nursing facility with less stress. Contact our team to explore personalized long-term care planning solutions tailored to your needs and preferences.

Reference: Central Trust Company (Jan. 26, 2024) "The Long-Term Care Quandary: Paying for Skilled Nursing Care"

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