We asked Madison-based elder law attorney Erin Duques to give us the truth about seniors losing their houses to nursing homes. Can Mom and Dad Really Lose Their House? By Attorney Erin Duques We’ve all heard the story at some point… an elderly person takes a fall, ends up in the hospital, then transitions into a nursing home for an extended period of time to recover. The cost of care is so expensive that the person ends up having to sell their house to pay for care. It’s a scary story. And it actually can happen. Many of my clients are shocked to learn that the average cost of nursing home care in the state of Connecticut is about $15,000 per month. That’s $180,000 a year! So you can see how one’s life saving can be used up quickly to pay for care. When it comes to a person’s home, if the person is in a skilled nursing facility and cannot or does not intend to return home, then the home is considered an asset that is available to pay for care. Medicaid or Title IX will not pay until an applicant has exhausted all available assets. But what if you (or your parents) want to leave a legacy for their children or grandchildren? Are there ways to protect their life savings and home? Yes, there are ways. But they require careful planning. And, generally speaking, the further in advance you start planning, the more assets that can be protected. In many cases, the use of an irrevocable trust is one of the best solutions. In a nutshell, assets (like a home) are placed in this special trust. The assets must remain in the trust for at least five years. After five years, assets are protected and will be “off the table” and won’t have to be used to pay for care. To learn more about this planning technique check out this article. If you have parents in their 70’s who might want to preserve their assets and home, do them a favor and discuss this with them. It’s not the easiest talk to have… but the cost of not having this talk can be enormous. ************** Erin Duques is a busy wife, mom, and attorney who lives and works in Madison for the estate planning and elder law firm Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri. For more information, visit ctseniorlaw.com.