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Will my assets be seized to cover the costs of my nursing home care?

The American population is aging and currently over 10 million Americans need long-term care services.  More than 70 percent of all people over the age of 65 need to anticipate requiring long-term care at some point during their lives, which could involve moving into a nursing home or benefitting from care at home.  With the costs of long-term care ever rising, it is critical that you take steps well in advance to protect your assets so that you can qualify for Medicaid. Our Tampa Bay elder law lawyers discuss some ways in which you can protect your assets so that you can receive the long-term healthcare you may need in your later years.

The Costs of Nursing Home Care

In Florida, the average nursing home will cost about 100,000 a year for a private room.  Semi-private rooms offer minimal savings, averaging about $8,152 a month. Few Florida couples can afford to pay these expenses for longer than the short term.  At times, only one spouse will require nursing home care, which may leave the other spouse struggling to cover their living expenses on top of the massive nursing home costs.  It becomes critical to shift some of the financial burden onto a third party source, which could include private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare.

Long Term Care Insurance

One possible option for obtaining coverage for your long-term care needs is long-term care insurance.  Healthy individuals may be able to purchase a private long-term care plan that will cover certain home health care costs.  There are several drawbacks to this option, however, including the fact that it will not cover nursing home expenses and can be quite expensive.


Medicaid has traditionally provided the most seniors with the nursing home care costs they may incur.  Medicaid may completely cover your nursing home costs, but it comes with strict financial rules that may require you to use certain of your assets to qualify for coverage.  To protect these assets, there are certain steps you can take, but you will need to plan well in advance of needing Medicaid coverage.

One step you can take is to use your assets that are at risk of being forced to go towards Medicaid to pay off existing debts.  In doing so, you can eliminate debts that would otherwise be hard for the remaining spouse to cover, while ensuring you will qualify for Medicaid.  For instance, you can use funds that put you over coverage limits to pay off your mortgage, credit card debt, and real estate taxes.

Alternatively, you can use excess funds to buy assets that do not get counted by Medicaid.  Medicaid will not count some assets like your home, car, or personal effects when considering your eligibility.  As such, you can use funds that are vulnerable to make home improvements, buy a new car, or buy certain personal effects.  Contact an elder law lawyer for more assistance with qualifying for Medicaid while preserving your assets.