Written by Sun Lakes Elder Law Attorney Scott Jensen
With the increasing costs of long term care, it can be stressful when trying to find options for care for themselves or a loved one. Many try to pay for the expenses themselves or some may even have some form of long term care insurance. For most, the need for planning does not become much of a thought until something happens to a family member facing the immediate need of long term care.
In Arizona, ALTCS (Arizona Long Term Care System) is Arizona’s Medicaid program to help those facing long term care needs. Under this system, people who meet specific requirements can receive assistance in the share of the costs related to long term care. Currently the average monthly cost for long term care in Maricopa County is $6,646.35. ALTCS is designed to help Arizona residents who have specific medical needs, and at the time of application have assets of $2,000.00 or less and have no more than $2,130.00 per month in income. Through this program those who stand in need of the most care can obtain help where otherwise they would have few if any options.
The area of ALTCS planning has many moving parts and can be quite complicated. For example, married couples would encounter different calculations to determine eligibility and the number of assets that can be retained in contrast to a single applicant. There are additionally many strategies on what to do with assets from gifting or spending down certain assets in order to become eligible.
There are many different ways for family members to learn what assets are counted or exempt from ALTCS asset requirements. Additional consideration related to assets include penalty periods related to gifting as well as a look back period of 5 years relating to the transfer of assets. There are also strategies to help a person meet the income requirement for ALTCS through special trusts. Each person’s situation is unique and requires careful consideration when planning for long term care. It is important that they speak to one that has experience in this area of when and how to a person can plan for long term care.