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How Long-Term Care Affects Your Property Deeds in North Carolina

Growing old is inevitable, so set up for your future now. From age 65 and up, there is a 75 percent chance you or your loved one will require long-term care. According to a CareScout survey from 2017,  living in a semi-private room in a nursing home can cost more than $80,000 a year. Many people can’t afford this, so luckily, Medicaid can step in and pay if you qualify. This sounds great, right? Unfortunately, this can cause problems after you pass away.

What is long-term care? It’s good to define long-term care because it is an umbrella term that means a multitude of things.

  1. Assisted living. You live in a facility that allows you to live somewhat on your own, but you can still request assistance with any tasks that you need. These facilities typically provide transportation, meals, and help with things around the house as needed. Such residences are focused on people who don’t need much medical assistance.
  2. Home Care. Instead of you moving somewhere for assistance, the assistance comes to you and helps you every day with whatever is needed.
  3. Nursing home. Nursing homes are typically more focused on those who need medical attention around the clock. They offer everything offered in assisted living, for the most part, but also have nurses employed to help with your medical needs. Most of the time these facilities also provide speech, occupational, and physical therapies to help with rehabilitation.

Paying for Long-Term Care

People often assume they will qualify for Medicaid, which may cover long-term care if your income and assets meet the requirements. However, if you have property in your name, once you die, the government can file a claim against this estate, forcing you to sell the property to pay them back. This process is called Medicaid “Estate Recovery.”

As we talked about recently, with care contracts, there are ways we can help make sure your assets aren’t entirely used to pay for your long-term care. One common way to do this in North Carolina is by using an “enhanced life estate deed” that will make the property “non-countable.” Your property will not be entered into probate and therefore will not be subject to “Estate Recovery” upon death.

The process is tricky, but if you have a friend or family member willing to help you with the process, talk to your estate attorney about it. This area of the law is complex; find an excellent attorney who understands Harnett County laws and the requirements to protect your assets. Once something is done “wrong,” it is usually impossible to undo.

At Kelly & West we want you to feel confident about your estate, so call us or send us a message on our 24-hour live chat to get started.

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