Elder Law 101: Nursing Home Care vs. Assisted Living

How Do Nursing Homes Differ from Assisted Living

Nursing home lawyers provide assistance in making an advanced plan to get you care required as you get older or if you experience illnesses or injuries that make you unable to care for yourself any longer.  

As you experience age-related sickness or the affects of illness, there is a substantial chance you will some day require care in an institutional care environment.  

In fact, as Wall Street Journal explains, more than 70 percent of people who reach the age of 65 will require nursing home care at some point in the future.  

You’ll need to make sure you are prepared to move to the right environment — and to pay for the care you require.

Most nursing homes cost upwards of $5,000 a month for care.

The Weaver Firm attorneys can help you understand your options for nursing home care or other care you might require.

In particular, you should consider the differences between nursing homes and assisted living facilities so you can make a fully informed choice regarding which environment is right for you.

If you want help in understanding the different options for senior living when you cannot live alone any longer, you can give us a call at any time to talk with nursing home lawyers at our firm.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

Assisted living and nursing homes both provide an option for seniors who can no longer live independently but as the New York Times explains, there are important differences.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities generally provide a more home-like environment while nursing homes have a more institutional or hospital-like feel.

These homes may involve seniors living more independently in their own rooms or their own apartments, while nursing homes generally provide semi-private or private rooms with much less privacy and autonomy than assisted living facilities offer.

While an assisted living facility can feel more like living independently for seniors, this independence makes assisted living facilities unsuitable for many seniors who require more hands-on help.  

Assisted living facilities may offer housekeeping services, meals, activities, and some help getting medical care, assisted living facilities typically do not provide the same level of supportive services that a nursing home does. 

The New York Times also indicates that nursing homes are more heavily regulated than assisted living facilities. 

Assisted living facilities are covered by VA aid and attendance. The rules for this program are complex but are not nearly as intense as Medicaid rules.

Some facilities have an assisted living section and a nursing home care section for seniors who are attracted to the idea of assisted living but who may need nursing home care in the future.

If you think this could be an option, you should make sure to find out what the rules are for when and how different kinds of care can be paid for. 

Getting Help from Nursing Home Lawyers

How much does it cost to stay in a nursing home?

The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $90,000 a year.

What are ways to pay for a nursing home stay?

There are four main ways to pay for a nursing home stay:

  1. Cash out of your pocket
  2. Medicaid
  3. Private Long Term Care Insurance
  4. Medicare

How does Medicaid pay?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state government program that helps people with low income and little assets pay for their nursing home cost.

Generally, to be eligible for Medicaid, your income and asset levels can’t exceed levels set forth in your state.

Medicaid officials will “look back” at your financial information over a certain number of years to determine if you have been getting rid of property in order to receive Medicaid.

However, if you have assets over the allowable level, you are permitted to “spend down” or decrease your assets before you receive Medicaid.

Typical spend down costs include medical expenses, mortgages and other debts, and funeral expenses.

Also, your house and car are generally not counted against you for qualification purposes, and therefore don’t have to be spent down.

States vary in their eligibility requirements, so you should check with your state social services office or an elder law attorney for specific information.

Also, keep in mind that not all nursing homes accept Medicaid, so you’ll need to ask about a particular nursing home’s policy. 

Nursing home lawyers at the Weaver Firm can provide assistance with the process of making a plan to get nursing home care or to get care in an assisted living community.

We can also provide guidance on reviewing nursing home facilities and assisted living facilities to find the right care environment for your particular circumstances.

Because the costs of care can be expensive and are not covered by Medicare or by most private insurance, we also provide assistance with the creation of a Medicaid plan so you can protect assets while getting Medicaid to cover the costs of your care. 

Contact us today at 817.638.9016 or RWeaver@weaverlegal.net

Texas Supreme Court Reverses Ambiguous Will Holding . . . Teaches Valuable Lesson

In Knopf v. Gray, the will disposed of the testator’s entire estate as follows:

 “NOW BOBBY I leave the rest to you, everything, certificates of deposit, land, cattle and machinery, Understand the land is not to be sold but passed on down to your children, ANNETTE KNOPF, ALLISON KILWAY, AND STANLEY GRAY. TAKE CARE OF IT AND TRY TO BE HAPPY.”

Bobby then tried to sell the property to someone else and his children sued him, claiming Bobby only possessed a life estate in the property. After a lengthy legal battle, the Texas Supreme Court held that the provision in Bobby’s Will merely created a life estate:

We need only read the provision as a whole to see a layperson’s clearly expressed intent to create what the law calls a life estate. Reading all three clauses together, Allen grants the land to Bobby subject to the limitations that he not sell it, that he take care of it, and that it be passed down to his children. This represents the essence of a life estate; a life tenant’s interest in the property is limited by the general requirement that he preserve the remainder interest unless otherwise authorized in the will. Allen’s words in the contested provision unambiguously refer to elements of a life estate and designate her grandchildren, the petitioners, as the remaindermen. The language thus clearly demonstrates that the phrase “passed on down,” as used here, encompasses a transfer upon Bobby’s death.

The Court’s ruling is an important reminder to make sure your Will is clear and correct.

Call us today 817.638.9016


Do I Owe Gift Taxes on Gifts from My Parents?

Nothing in life is as certain as death and taxes.

Do you owe tax on gifts from your parents?

Your parents have made wise financial decisions.

They now have a decent amount of money.

Maybe you are struggling a bit financially right now.

Maybe you are fine financially.

Either way, your parents gift you money.


Your parents love you.

Thanks, mom and dad . . . but . . . do I owe taxes on this gift?

The Short answer is NO.

Here’s Why?

These lifetime gifts made to you by your parents (or others) are not considered income to you.

As a result, the gifts will neither be taxed as income nor will they put you into a higher tax bracket.

Will you parents owe taxes?


If they give more than the annual exclusion amount to an individual, then yes.

How much is the annual exclusion amount?

In 2018, it is $15,000.

They or you can give this amount to any number of people in a year. Gifts for all!

What if their gift exceeds this amount?

Your parent will need to file a gift tax return (Form 709) and claim any gift exceeding the exclusion amount as a reduction against his or her future estate tax exemption.

With the federal estate tax exemption now sitting at $11,220,000 per person in 2018, this will not likely be a problem.

YES . . .you can give away over 11 Million Dollars during your life and not pay taxes on those gifts.

Can your parent claim a deduction on a gift to you, your children, or anyone else?


Deductions are allowed on charitable donations, but not on gifts to people.

To take a deduction on charitable donation, donations must be itemized.

Your parents should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure their gifts align with their estate planning goals. 817.638.9016

Ten Things to Think About Before Creating Your Estate Plan

Haven’t given much thought to estate planning and charitable giving? You aren’t alone. Over 60% of people don’t have Last Wills and Testaments.  Here are 10 questions to jumpstart your thinking(thanks to Marketwatch for the great article):

1. Can you afford to give away money now? You shouldn’t gift large sums to your children or charity unless you’re confident you have enough for your own retirement. There’s no limit on gifts to charity, though your annual tax deduction may be capped. For gifts to family members, you might take advantage of the annual gift-tax exclusion, currently $15,000 as of January, 2018.

2. Do you have the right beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts and life insurance? Your individual retirement account and employer’s retirement plan might hold the bulk of your savings, so it’s crucial these accounts pass to the correct people. Unless you want your ex-spouse inheriting from you, probably a good idea to remove his or her name from the beneficiary designation.

3. At the end of your life, who do you want to make medical decisions on your behalf and how far would you like doctors to go in attempting to prolong your life? You should make these wishes official in a health care power of attorney and physician’s directive.

4. Do you have a Last Will and Testament? According to a 2016 Gallup survey, just 44% of U.S. adults have one. Wills are crucial to avoid letting the State dictate who receives your property.

5. Are you worrying unnecessarily about federal estate taxes? Thanks to today’s $5.5 million estate tax exclusion, IRS statistics suggest just one out of every 530 deaths will likely trigger federal estate taxes. Indeed, you should review your estate plan if it was designed to avoid federal estate taxes—but was drawn up before the sharp increase in the federal estate tax exclusion since 2001, when the exclusion stood at just $675,000. If you have complicated bypass trust language, now is a great time to simplify your Estate plan. and make things easier on your surviving spouse or children.

6. Does your state impose an estate or inheritance tax? Good news . . . Texas has no state inheritance tax!

7. Should you keep your Roth IRA for your heirs? That pool of tax-free money could make a great bequest. During your lifetime, you might also help your children or other young family members fund a Roth, assuming they have earned income. With decades of compounding ahead of them, even small sums invested today could grow to become significant wealth.

8. Are the charities you support well-run? Investigate charities by heading to sites such as CharityNavigator.org and GuideStar.org. A crucial question: Of the dollars you donate, what percentage ends up in the hands of the people you’re hoping to help? Consider local charities if you have misgivings about national organizations.

9. Could you save even more on taxes by donating appreciated assets? And if you’re over age 70½, you could give away part of your annual required minimum distributions.

10. Have you talked to your adult children about your estate? You should discuss your estate plan with your family and how much they will likely inherit, how you would like the money used, where key documents are located and what your wishes are regarding life-prolonging medical procedures. Will contests and Trust litigations costs thousands and can permanently divide families. Be honest about what you are leaving to whom and why.

If you need help with your estate plan, give us a call at 817.638.9016. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive even more valuable planning news and tips.

Rick Weaver to Speak at Fort Worth Business and Estates Council

Do you have plans for November 16, around noon? No? Well you do now! Rick Weaver (of the Weaver Firm) and Earl Davidson are speaking on Discovering Government Benefits for the Elderly at the Fort Worth Business and Estates Council at the City Club in Fort Worth. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Davidson will touch on issues such as Medicaid for long term care and nursing homes, Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits for those who served our Country, and long term care insurance for those who might need it. The average cost of a nursing home is over $7,000.00 per month in 2017! Come hear these two speakers tell you everything you need to know about long term care planning. If you aren’t a member of the Tarrant County Bar Association and would like more information about long term care planning, schedule an appointment with the Weaver Firm today.

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Weaver Firm to Present at Tarrant County Probate Nuts and Bolts Seminar

ON Friday, September 15, 2017, the Tarrant County Probate Bar will host its annual “Nuts and Bolts” seminar at the City Club of Fort Worth. This seminar will cover topics including Guardianships, HIPAA protection laws, handling creditor claims in Estates, and most importantly . . . Medicaid and Veteran’s Benefits. Rick Weaver of the Weaver Firm and Earl Davidson, a certified financial planner who specializes in Medicaid and Elder Care Planning will present a guide to Medicaid planning and what changes to the law may be coming in 2017-2018. Considering the average cost of monthly care in a nursing home is nearing $7,000.00 per month, you can’t afford to miss this information.

To schedule an appointment with either Weaver Attorney for questions about Medicaid planning and how it might affect you and your family in 2017 and beyond, call 817.638.9016 or email us at TWeaver@www.weaverlegal.net    

The Weaver Firm, PC featured in the Texas Bar Journal

Have you ever wondered how to protect your home from a Medicaid claim? Today is your lucky day. Check out this short Texas Bar Journal article on what steps to take to prevent Medicaid recovery claims against you or your loved ones.

“Home Sweet Home: Making Sense of Medicaid Recovery”

As always, contact our office for help with Medicaid claims and other Probate issues.


Call 817.638.9016 or email at TWeaver@www.weaverlegal.net