More than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will end up needing long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s difficult to imagine a point down the road where you or your spouse will need to move to a nursing home or another long-term care facility, but it is a possibility that you need to prepare for.

Nursing home care is very expensive, and as the Wall Street Journal has reported, most health insurance plans don’t cover it.

Even if you have carefully saved throughout your life or you have significant assets, just a few months in a nursing home or another long-term care facility can rip through your savings.

The good news is that effective Medicaid planning can help to avoid this by limiting the amount of your own money that will spent on health care. However, it’s important to begin the planning right away to maximize the effectiveness of these efforts.

The plan could involve creating a spend-down strategy, transferring some of your assets to a trust or making other arrangements to help you prepare to qualify for Medicaid.

What many people don’t realize is that when you apply for Medicaid, the government looks at your finances for the past five years of your application date in order to determine if you and/or your spouse qualify.

Therefore, effective Medicaid planning can also help to avoid a situation where one spouse is required to become destitute while the other spouse is in a nursing home in order to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

Ultimately, while no one wants to think about moving to a nursing home or another long-term care facility, it is a reality for a majority of Americans who live beyond the age of 65, and it is something that needs to be planned for.

Schedule a meeting with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers in order to talk about how Medicaid planning should factor in to your overall estate plan.