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Long Term Health Care Planning Crucial Part of Business Transition & Estate Planning

by Gary Hachfeld, Extension Educator

Not planning for long term health care, when doing farm business transition and estate planning, can financially cripple the farm business.

There are three reasons why many farm families overlook planning for long term health care when doing business transition and estate planning. They do not realize the probability of needing long term care, they do not realize long term care costs have skyrocketed in the last 5 years and there are lots of misconceptions about what people think they can do with their assets to shelter them from long term care costs, said Gary A. Hachfeld, University of Minnesota Extension educator in agricultural business management.

"Long term health care costs are potentially more financially devastating to a farm business than any tax issue,” Hachfeld said. "Long term care costs can undo any amount of transition and estate planning if not addressed."

Currently, one in every two Americans over the age of 65 will have some type of stay in a nursing home. One in ten Americans over the age of 65 will have a nursing home stay greater than five years. Of those individuals currently receiving nursing home level care, 40 percent are under the age of 65. Long term care costs, based upon a recent survey by Genworth Financial, shows median costs for home care of $65,000 and a private nursing home room at $97,000.

Medicare will pay for a maximum of a 100 day stay in a nursing home if certain criteria are met. Medicaid has asset limit rules which state a Medicaid applicant cannot own more than $3,000 worth of assets and a prepaid burial to qualify. In addition, life estate and most trusts will not shelter assets from long term care costs. If assets are gifted away, 60 months has to pass before the donor can qualify for Medicaid. In Minnesota, the only way to protect farm business assets from long term health care costs is to purchase long term care insurance. Seek the help of an elder law attorney when doing any long term health care planning to avoid making any mistakes.

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