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The Cost of Failing to Plan

I received a sad, and I am afraid, all to common call yesterday from a gentleman who's father was in a nursing home and had spent all of his available funds, and was now being evicted from the nursing home.  Upon further inquiry, I learned that this father previously had a nest egg of $200,000 just two years ago, but based upon the advice of a financial advisor, the son spent all of the funds in order to qualify for Medicaid.  This advisor had just been through the same thing with his own father, and was therefore an "expert" on the subject.  Had the son gone to see an experienced elder law attorney, he would likely have been shown  ways to preserve over $100,000 of the funds that could have been available to better care for the father, and would already be qualified for Medicaid.  The advisor failed to inform the client of the techniques available for preserving these assets.  He also failed to inform the son that the father qualified for $1,600 in VA pension benefits each month for the past 2 years.  In total, I estimate the cost of this advisor's free advice to be $140,000.  I suppose the one small consolation is that the expert advisor saved the client our $300 consultation fee that we would have charged them to let them know these other options exist.   I suspect that the client would have preferred to have spent the funds necessary to preserve $140,000 for his father's care, and that the advisor would have preferred to have kept the $140,000 under management.  Instead neither is possible because of some well meaning but ill informed advice from an "expert."  If you have a loved one that is already in, or is expected to enter a nursing home, you owe it to yourself to seek the advice of a true expert, like a Certified Elder Law Attorney, and find out all of your available options. Sometimes free advice is no bargain at all.

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