YOUR LEGAL PLAN: THE IMPORTANT STEP YOU’RE MISSING
So many of us think we have proper plans in place if something happens to us. Unfortunately, many of us are also wrong. Don’t put off making a solid legal plan for your future until it’s too late!
“Planning” is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the act or process of making or carrying out plans; specifically: the establishment of goals, policies, and procedures for a social or economic unit | city planning | business planning.”
On its face, it appears relatively clear and unambiguous, right? I mean, we all do it. Whether it is planning a vacation, a night out with friends, a family gathering, a birthday celebration or even making a list before going to WalMart for our groceries.
However, when it comes to planning for how we will be cared for in our old age, we prefer not to think about it, hoping it will just work out! Even worse, we may believe we have done proper end-of-life planning by establishing a “will-based” or a “revocable trust-based” legal plan, only to learn in our later years that this type of legal plan will neither protect our assets nor facilitate our becoming eligible for various government benefits.
Truthfully, most of us plan for an “after-death” transfer of our assets to either our spouse or to our children premised upon our experiencing a sudden, life ending event. However, there is a 50% chance that we will be diagnosed with dementia or multiple sclerosis or suffer a debilitating stroke which, inevitably, will lead to long-term care.
In these cases, a family’s life savings often goes almost entirely to the long-term care facility, leaving very little for the children, grandchildren, and any other potential beneficiaries. The family thought they would be passing their wealth on to the next generation; instead they pass their wealth on to the long-term care facility and other medical care providers.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOUR MONEY?
Assume that a Husband and Wife have, over their marital life, purchased a home and saved approximately $300,000.00 in savings, checking and CDs and the Husband suffers a debilitating stroke that requires him to be placed into a skilled nursing facility. After 90 days of rehabilitation in the skilled nursing facility that is covered by Husband’s Medicare Plan, his doctors determine that Husband will have to remain in the skilled nursing facility.
At this point, the Husband and Wife will have to determine how to pay for Husband’s care in the skilled nursing facility and provide for the Wife’s continued existence. If Husband does not own a long-term care policy, the only options available to Husband and Wife are private pay or seeking eligibility for Medicaid.
Presently, the average private pay cost for a room in an Oklahoma skilled nursing facility is approximately $5,750.00 per month. If we ignore what the Wife needs to live off of the couple’s assets; their assets will be expended within 52 months for care for the Husband. 
However, if the couple consulted with an Elder Law attorney and created a proper legal plan, they would learn that current Medicaid regulations would allow for the Wife to keep $126,420.00 of the assets. A large portion of the remaining assets ($87,580.00) would have to be used to pay for Husband’s care, leaving only $86,000.00 available to be transferred to an irrevocable trust with their children being the Trustees and Beneficiaries of the irrevocable trust.
Looking at their situation as a whole, the family would have to wait (“spend down”) approximately 15 months before applying for Medicaid for the Husband. At no time in this scenario would either a “will-based” plan or a “revocable trust-based” plan help the couple in protecting or preserving their $300,000.00. Finally, should the Wife subsequently require long term care, then the $126,420.00 transferred to her during the planning for Husband would be subject to Medicaid recovery.
WILL YOUR LEGAL PLAN WORK FOR YOU?
This hypothetical couple assumed that they had a solid legal plan for their future. Instead, they found that a vast majority of their assets went to paying for long-term care and other medical expenses. Their children and grandchildren saw very little of the wealth the Husband and Wife had hoped to pass down. You can work hard your whole life to save money for your retirement and your family, but without careful legal planning, your money may not wind up where you had planned.
Perhaps, after reviewing the above scenario and reflecting upon your present end-of-life plan, you may want to reconsider how you have planned for old age. Ask yourself whether your plan will either help or hinder your ability to secure necessary care without losing all or nearly all of your hard-earned assets. If you need help reviewing your legal plan for your future, I would be happy to assist you. You may reach me at (918) 336-1722.
 Once an individual is admitted into a skilled nursing facility it is difficult to project precisely what their life expectancy will be. On average an individual will live approximately fourteen months.