Southerners often pride themselves on taking care of family. However, as family members live longer and Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are becoming more common, caring for an aging loved one can be challenging. Many times, family members cannot quit their jobs to care for the loved one, or they may not have the care-giving expertise to meet their loved one’s needs. When it’s time to consider skilled care, like a nursing home, the family needs to talk to an elder law attorney about asset protection and potential government benefits, such as Medicaid and SSI.
Avoid “Spend Down” with a Special Needs Trust
Contrary to popular belief, an elderly person entering a nursing home does not need to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for government benefits. An alternative to the “spend down” is a special needs trust, also called a supplemental needs trust. Placing the “spend-down” monies into a pooled special-needs trust such as Alabama Family Trust helps achieve Medicaid eligibility.
How Alabama Nursing Homes Measure Up
Some more good news is that the Medicare Nursing Home Compare from May 2017 reported that residents in Alabama’s roughly 27,000 nursing home beds beat national averages in these areas:
- receive more hours of care per day from certified nursing assistants
- have fewer pressure sores
- have fewer reports of moderate to severe pain
- have fewer depressive symptoms
In spite of these positive measurements, families need to know that Medicaid does not pay 100% of nursing home costs. With a special needs trust, family can improve the quality of life for their loved one without causing them to lose valuable government benefits. For example, a spouse or children can use trust funds to provide diapers, pajamas, clothes, a private room, or even caregivers in the nursing home. Meanwhile, Medicaid benefits pay for the monthly room and board at the facility.
Talk to Your Lawyer and Alabama Family Trust
When your lawyer asks who should manage the trust, talk about Alabama Family Trust. It is a non-profit, 501(c)3, pooled-trust company set up by the Alabama Legislature. It administers special needs trusts for disabled individuals, including the elderly entering nursing homes. Alabama Family Trust manages trusts large and small, even as small as $1,500. Assets for the trust may come from the beneficiary, legal settlements, inheritance, alimony, or even gifts from other family members and friends.
Learn more about Alabama Family Trust here at www.alabamafamilytrust.com. And together, let’s keep taking care of family here in Alabama.