Older and Wiser

5 Common Questions About Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care planning can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting one. There are many resources available, but you may not know where to start. Cassia is here to help.

With assistance from Attorney Mary Frances Price, of Moss & Barnett, we have compiled a list of five common questions about long-term care planning and how to answer them.

1. What is long-term care and long-term care planning?

Let’s start at the beginning. Long-term care is recognized as a need for support with two or more of the five activities of daily living: dressing, bathing, toileting, transferring and eating. Long-term care planning, then, is making preparations to pay for such care.

2. Will the county take my house if my spouse needs to go into Assisted Living and applies for medical assistance?

“A lot of people have the notion that if one is going into Memory Care or Assisted Living, the spouse is not going to have their house,” Price says. “Does the county take my house if we need help paying for care? The short answer is no. A spouse is allowed to have a house with equity up to $688,000.” (That amount may vary state to state.)

In general, individuals are able to keep their home, car, personal property, prepaid burials and $148,620 for Minnesotans in 2023.

“That’s the current asset allowance for someone whose spouse is in need of Medicaid,” Price says.

3. Does Medicare pay for any long-term care?

Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of long-term care.

“It’s designed to get a patient who has suffered an injury, stroke or heart attack long-term supportive services to get them healthy enough to go back home and transition off benefits,” Price says. “ … Once it is a protracted need for the future, it shifts into private pay mode.”

4. How do I build a long-term care plan?

Factors to consider when building a long-term care plan are the availability of fixed income: Medicare and pensions; savings, IRAs, and brokerage accounts; long-term care insurance; veterans’ benefits for veterans and surviving spouses, and Medicaid (referred to as Medical Assistance in Minnesota).

Individuals and couples building long-term care plans must take into account their income, savings and other resources. If you have long-term care insurance, you need to understand how it works and how to make a claim.

5. Who can I ask for help?

A number of professionals can assist with long-term care planning. While estate attorneys focus on legal aspects such as wills and trusts, elder law attorneys like Price specialize in long-term care planning and asset protection planning. In many cases, you will want to consult your financial advisor and/or accountant, especially if you have long-term care insurance and are considering changing or cancelling your policy. 

“Get individual counseling because people’s financial and legal situations are so unique,” Price says. “Individualized planning is important. It’s not too soon to talk about this if you’re aging, certainly if you have a new diagnosis, even if you don’t have an immediate need. The potential exists in the future for all of us. It’s not too soon to think and talk about it.”

About Mary Frances Price

Headshot of Mary Frances Price.

Mary Frances is an experienced Veterans Affairs-Accredited Elder Law Attorney who focuses her practice on serving individuals and families who are establishing an estate plan, revising an existing estate plan, or dealing with the legal, medical, and financial impacts of aging, chronic illness, and disability. Her practice includes advising on Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, long-term care insurance, estate and tax planning, as well as asset protection for families and individuals with disability and long-term care expenses. She has counseled and advised hundreds of clients on their estate, elder care, and disability plans and provides effective and ethical legal guidance, helping clients make difficult decisions and navigate the complicated issues that arise when dealing with chronic health challenges, disability, and aging.