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The Estep Law Firm specializes in elder law and estate planning and has been serving clients in the Eastern Missouri area since 1996.  If you are looking for an attorney to help you with estate planning and planning for any long-term care costs, Attorney Shawn Estep can help you.

Read our spotlight of Attorney Estep here to learn more about him, his practice, and how he can assist you.

Attorney Spotlight
Shawn J. Estep, Attorney at Law
The Estep Law Firm, LLC
Estate Planning and Elder Law
2 Cityplace Dr., 2nd Floor
St. Louis, MO 63141
(636) 233-2017

Biggest Hurdle/Pain Point Identified By Clients
The biggest hurdle I face when counseling an individual or family is that although they recognize they need estate planning and that they need a plan to pay future long-term care costs they may not feel ready to start the process for one of the following common reasons:

“I’m not ready to do what is necessary to plan for long-term care costs.”

“I don’t have enough money to justify an estate plan or long-term care asset protection plan.”

Potential clients also may not recognize the value of engaging an attorney who specializes in estate planning and elder law to assist them with design and preparation of their estate plan.

“I have wills and a trust I prepared myself or had an attorney (that doesn’t practice elder law) prepare them for me, so I’m prepared.”

Important Trends in Long-Term Care
More Americans than ever before are needing long-term care services. In fact, a Department of Health and Human Services study published in 2019 found that more than 70% of Americans reaching age 65 will develop severe long-term needs and up to 48% will pay for some care personally or through federal and state programs.

Unfortunately, this data does not include long-term care services provided through unpaid family assistance, which often places financial and personal burdens on family members. Proper planning and preparation can reduce or eliminate that burden.

This trend along with the increasing cost of long-term care makes it more important than ever to plan now.

Myths Regarding Estate Planning
There are many myths out there surrounding estate planning, including:

“Giving the house to my children is a good way to prevent the “nursing home” from getting my house.”

Gifting may work if done long before nursing home care is needed, but such a gift may have tax consequences for the gift giver and the recipient. Also, if the gift giver continues to live in the home and the child receiving the gift is sued, goes through a divorce, or files for bankruptcy, the gift giver can lose their right to live in the home.

“Adding my children to my accounts as joint owners makes it easier for them to manage my money.”

This can certainly be true, but it can cause issues between children. Upon your passing, your legacy may not go to the right people, and in some cases, and worst of all, if your children need money, they may use yours.

“Medicare and Medicaid will pay for long-term care.”

Medicare only covers short stays in a skilled nursing facility, for hospice care, or for some costs associated with home health care.  Medicare will cover these costs for a maximum of 100 days.  After that, you’re on your own for 100% of the costs incurred from staying in a skilled nursing facility.

Medicaid is a means-tested benefit, so your assets have to be depleted before you can apply for benefits to help you pay for your long-term care. In Missouri in 2021, individuals can keep up to $5,000 and Married couples can keep a maximum of $133,640.  Unfortunately, in order to keep the maximum and qualify for Medicaid benefits you would have to start with $257,280 in “countable assets” and spend $123,640 before you would be awarded benefits.  There are better ways to prepare for long-term care and qualify for benefits more quickly. Speaking with a qualified elder law attorney is your first step.

“I won’t need long-term care but if I do, I’ll wind up in a nursing home.”

The reality is that about 70 percent of people over age 65 will need some form of long-term care. Although roughly one-third of people older than 65 may never need long-term care support, 20 percent of those who do will need it for more than five years. It is important to recognize that risk so that you can plan ahead.

Why Should Someone Hire You?
We have years of experience in estate planning and elder law and believe that our educational approach to creating estate plans for the families we serve makes the planning process easier for the client and results in a better estate plan.

What Sets You Apart From Other Estate Planning Firms?
We believe in continuing education for our clients, their loved ones, and trusted decision-makers. This is not common practice for estate planning attorneys. However, I believe that it is essential in making sure each estate plan works the way our clients expect.

Helpful Resources for Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Long-Term Care

8 Myths About Aging And Long-Term Care
Myths of Long-Term Care
Separating Long-Term Care Insurance Myths From Realities
9 Myths About Aging And Long-Term Care For Dummies

Contact the Estep Law Firm Today
If you are in need of an estate planning attorney, want to learn more about long-term care planning, elder law, or need to update your existing will, trust, or estate plan, contact us today.