Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve been told that I need to speak with an elder law attorney. What do you do, and what makes you different from other attorneys?
Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long-term care planning, retirement, life care planning, probate and other important matters. Elder law issues are usually more complex as they deal directly with Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Administration regulations which are frequently changing. Elder law firms use a holistic approach to finding solutions for their clients. We focus on helping the client create a plan for their care needs as well as how they will pay for their care and what government benefits they may be eligible to receive. The plan they formulate is created with the ability to adapt as our client’s needs can change with little or no notice. Elder Law of Middle Tennessee partners with our clients to navigate the health care journey identifying potential needs and pitfalls, educating the client and family about realistic expectations as needs change and advocating for our clients to get the best quality of life.
My mom is being transferred to a nursing home and I’ve been told that Medicare will pay for her care. Is this true?
Yes and no. Medicare only pays for skilled nursing care, which usually follows a three day hospital stay (some Medicare HMOs will waive the three day stay but it depends on what type of Medicare plan you have chosen). Medicare will pay for the first 20 days of skilled care and could pay up to a total of 100 days of care with a co-payment for days 21-100. However, most people do not use the entire skilled care benefit and typical length of stay is around 28 days or less. Medicare will not pay for long-term nursing home care or the intermediate level of care. Intermediate care is also called custodial care and provides services such as dressing, bathing, toileting needs, feeding, etc. Long-term nursing home care is either private (self) pay by the individual or is paid by Medicaid. Medicaid in Tennessee is also called TennCare and the program to pay for long-term care services and supports is called CHOICES.
My husband is in skilled care and I don’t think he is going to be able to come home. Am I going to lose my home? How will I pay for bills at home? Will the nursing home take all of our money?
The realization that a loved one needs long-term nursing home care is scary and overwhelming. A family may be advised by well intentioned but uninformed friends who advise them to transfer or gift assets to another family member to protect the money in addition to other risky scenarios. For application purposes, your home is an exempt asset, allowing the community spouse or well spouse to continue residing in the home. However, after both members of the couple of have passed away, TennCare can enforce estate recovery, and require the home be sold to reimburse TennCare for the money they have spent on care. TennCare has guidelines that allow the community spouse to retain income, which allows them to pay for bills at home. Because there are so many rules and regulations as to what TennCare does and does now allow, you need to meet with an elder law attorney who can educate you regarding your available options, and help you avoid any pitfalls that could have long-term consequences
I don’t think I can afford an Elder Law Attorney. Are they expensive?
The most expensive mistake is the one made without adequate information. Elder law attorneys provide sound legal and financial guidance to help families with their immediate concerns and to provide support which relieves the stress of the caregiver. Our clients and their families say that the peace of mind we provide them is beyond their expectations. Long-term care is expensive but knowing options to navigate the maze and utilize available options can save you money in the long run.
Why do you charge a consultation fee?
Our consultation appointments are conducted by an attorney, and typically last 1-1/2 hours. We take the time to listen to your concerns and to explain the options available to you. Elder law does not have easy questions, and the answers are even more complicated. At the end of the consultation you have an understanding of the resources and benefits to work on an ongoing basis with our firm. Even if you choose not to retain our services, you still have received the necessary information to make a more informed decision for your loved one.