In order for a trust to protect an individual’s assets from the costs of his or her long-term care for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid, the trust must be created by the individual during his or her life and it must be irrevocable. Additionally, the person cannot have access to the trust principal. Likewise, if the individual also desires to preserve the income from the trust, the person cannot have access to the trust income. This panics many clients. What if there is an emergency and they need the money in the trust?

When assets are transferred to a trust that protects from long-term care costs, the plan is that the trustee (or maybe a trust protector or a distribution committee) is able to access the assets in the trust in the event the trust funds are needed. Asset protection trusts can be written so that they give a person whom the grantor (donor or settlor) trusts access to the trust's income and principal.

Because we are living longer, our chances of needing long-term care are increasing. We now need to think about not only what happens if we die, but also what happens if we become ill and need long-term care. Estate planning attorneys answer the question, “What happens if you die?” Elder law attorneys answer the more difficult and important question, “What happens if you do not die but become ill and need long-term care?” An elder law attorney does not simply prepare last will and testaments, trusts, and powers of attorney. An elder law attorney prepares a roadmap for you—a long-term health care plan to address your specific health care needs, financial situation, and individualized goals.

Additional Information on North Carolina Medicaid Assistance for Nursing Home Care:

Download a free copy of Jackie Bedard’s book, The Ultimate Guide to Paying for Nursing Home Care in North Carolina, to learn the nursing home and Medicaid secrets you need to know to avoid going broke in a nursing home and leaving your family penniless.

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning