Long-Term Care & Elder Issues: How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help

Elder law in Maine can include issues ranging from choosing long-term care options, to accessing government benefits like MaineCare, to addressing concerns about elder abuse or neglect. We encourage you to read below or view our video about elder law and how our elder law attorneys can assist you. You may also wish to view our Maine elder law resources.

To speak with us about your specific circumstances, we welcome you to contact Nale Law Offices. With offices in Waterville, we are committed to serving clients from all parts of Maine.

Long-Term Care Planning

The advice and assistance provided for long-term care planning depends on the age and health of the client. For the younger retiring client, we assist with alternative ways to pay for long-term care such as long-term care insurance, life insurance, annuities, and other private measures to assist with this potentially costly need for long-term care.

At an older age we assist with, first and foremost, how to keep the elder home, aging in place. We assist with informal at-home care coming from family and friends. We also assist with private pay at-home care and assist with care options outside the home when necessary. We help with accessing a long-term care insurance benefit and other private pay options and we also assist with qualifying for government benefits such as MaineCare and/or veterans' benefits. With proper planning, either at an early age or an advanced age, your hard-earned assets can be preserved and protected for the benefit of your spouse and/or heirs.

Aging at Home

When it comes to long-term care planning, we as elder law attorneys know — because we hear it from our clients all the time — that their main goal is to remain at home and to age in place at their home for as long as possible. And we take that goal for the client very seriously.

We first start with: who in the client’s family may be able to help the client age in place? Who in terms of friends or other support systems in the elder’s life may be called upon to help support the elder to remain in their home for as long as possible? That is first and foremost — putting together a long-term care plan that keeps the client in their home for as long as possible.

Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care

If not, if the client’s needs are more than what can be provided at home, then we look outside the home for more formal settings, such as assisted living facility, assisted living with dementia oversight, or perhaps nursing home level of care if necessary. The cost of that type of formal care is very expensive and it can result in, if not a substantial depletion of the client’s assets, perhaps depletion of all of the client’s assets.

Long-term care is not covered under Medicare. Medicare is healthcare coverage and healthcare is the type of care we need to get better. Long-term care is not the type of care we need to get better, long-term care is the type of care we need just to get by and help with activities of daily living. That is such as mobility, bathing, personal hygiene, eating, and then of course if we suffer from dementia then we need constant 24-hour oversight.

Paying for Long-Term Care

When we look at the cost of long-term care, we look at three ways to pay for long-term care.

1. Private Pay

The first way to pay for long-term care is private pay. If the client has sufficient and substantial assets, then perhaps that would be the choice.

2. Long-Term Care Insurance

If the client does not have substantial assets to pay for long-term care, then perhaps the client has a long-term care insurance policy that could be activated and provide some if not all of the cost of long-term care.

3. Government Benefits for Long-Term Care: MaineCare and Veterans’ Benefits

The third way to pay for long-term care is to qualify for one of the several government benefits that are available, but the government benefits that are available for long-term care are needs based. This means — whether the government benefit is the veteran’s benefit or whether it is the MaineCare benefit — that, in order to qualify, the client must meet three conditions and must answer one question. The three conditions are:

  1. The client must need the level of care that he or she is asking for help to pay for. This is usually not a problem. We do not want to be in the formal settings outside of our home unless we have to be. But nevertheless, the client is assessed to have his level of care determined.
  2. The client’s fixed monthly income must be less than the cost of care than they are asking to pay for. This is usually not a problem, either, because the cost of care ranges anywhere from $6,000 a month to $15k a month at a nursing home.
  3. The person applying for the government benefit, at least the MaineCare benefit, can only have $10,000 of assets in his or her name. An at-home spouse can have additional assets depending on what level of care the application is for. If it’s at the Assisted Living level of care, the asset levels are more liberal. If it’s at the Nursing Home level of care, there are asset restrictions for the at-home spouse. Nevertheless, the rules — with proper planning — allow for the preservation of assets over and above the limited amounts

The question one must answer is: what did you do with your assets during the last five years that now brings you down to this level? Whatever amount the client or the client and his or her spouse gifted during the last five years will have to be paid first, before the client qualifies for the government benefit.

Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

When circumstances show that an elder or incapacitated person is the subject of abuse, neglect, or exploitation our elder law attorneys get involved as advocates for the abused person. Maine state laws set forth a number of civil and criminal laws designed to protect elders and incapacitated persons from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. We advocate for these laws before the Maine Legislature and when called upon, and as necessary, we advocate for the client who is the subject of such abuse.

Speak with Our Maine Elder Law Attorneys

To speak with us about any of these elder law issues, please contact Nale Law Offices in Waterville. We work with older persons and families located throughout Maine.