Elder Law

Asset Protection, Crisis Planning, and the Nursing Home

“What hard work giveth, the
Nursing Home taketh away.”-Dave Zumpano

Will you be among the 70% of Americans who become impoverished within one year of entering a nursing home?

Seven out of ten Americans, age 65 and older require some level of long-term care and with the average cost of long-term care in Tennessee being nearly $7,000.00 per month, a person’s life savings and family home can be exhausted rapidly. 

Without a plan in place you are setting yourself (and your heirs) up for a potential financial disaster in the years to come.

Attorney Stan Pierchoski specializes in estate planning and asset protection for families, just like yours, who don’t want to risk losing everything to long term health care (the nursing home).

TennCare (Medicaid)

Everyone has heard of “Medicare” and everyone has heard of “Medicaid”.  They are only 2 letters of the alphabet different, but they are very different in how they work and what they pay for.  

Briefly, “Medicare” is a federal program. it’s the same everywhere and it acts like health insurance.

“Medicaid” was created by the federal government, but it is operated and controlled by the individual states.  Each state is bound to operate within the basic guidelines of the Medicaid Act, but each state has certain flexibility within those guidelines.  Tennessee’s version of Medicaid is called “TennCare.”

When we talk about Medicaid, we’re talking about the Nursing Home.  They are very tied together.  Medicaid pays for long-term care, but your long-term care is at the Nursing Home.

Asset Protection Planning

The reasons that people do Medicaid asset protection planning, is to qualify for benefits. Primarily Medicaid. Medicaid is what covers nursing home care.

We also help people with a veterans benefit called Aid and Attendance. The goal is to protect assets as soon as possible in order to protect and preserve your dignity and quality of life. What do I mean by that?  Well, a lot of people, when I think about Medicaid asset protection, they think it’s all about preserving an inheritance for their children. And for some people that is their goal. And that’s fine, if people have scrimped and saved for a lifetime and they want to preserve and inheritance for their children as a legacy that’s there, right? But many, if not most of our clients, their kids are financially better off than they are. And it’s not about preserving an inheritance for the kids.

It’s about protecting the assets to make their life better, if and when they need nursing home care. How that works is, if you create the living trust asset protection trust, and you’ve protected your assets in this trust, that money can be used, by your children to make your life better in the nursing home.  To pay for things that Medicaid doesn’t cover, like lost or broken dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, even to pay for things like a private sitter which can be a lifesaver when it comes to preserving dignity and quality of life. 

A big part of asset protection is also about protecting income and assets for the healthy spouse. When we’re dealing with a married couple or one spouse is in the nursing home. The primary goal is to protect the income and assets for the healthy spouse.  Sometimes it’s about protecting a family home, meaning there is not only a spouse living in it, but maybe adult children.  Adult children who have come to live with you, to help take care of you. And the last thing you want is to wind up in a nursing home, and have to be forced to sell the house, to pay for your nursing home care. And now your kids don’t have a roof over their head.

So these are the main reasons that people do this type of asset protection plan. 

Crisis Planning

What if the Nursing Home is already reality for a loved one?

I’ll start by saying this: there is almost always something we can do! While 100% asset protection is made possible by pre-planning years in advance, I find that we are usually able to protect as much as 60-80% of the family assets by strategizing with what we have and using the law to our advantage.

The best way for me to get an accurate analysis of your situation quickly is by you completing this Property Protection Checklist. This simple, one page form can give us a timeline to protection by telling me what we can protect, how much of it we can still protect, and when this preservation will be possible for each asset.

This tool is helpful for pre-planning and essential for crisis planning so if you think that the nursing home could be knocking on the door within the next few years, go ahead and click the button below to fill out this checklist and give me a call so we can discuss your family’s best options.

You need an Estate Planning Lawyer who understands how to prepare for the unexpected and to protect what you’ve worked for all your life!


When Should I Start?

It’s called Estate “Planning” for a reason! There is a fair amount of thinking ahead involved if you want the desired outcome. If you have loved ones that you want to protect, you need a plan!

Every adult needs an Advance Health Care Directive.

Parents of minor children or special needs children need certain documents in place to protect these kids if something should happen to the parents.

If you have loved ones you want to protect, estate planning is for you! You don’t need to be wealthy.

Typical family assets usually consist of a home, maybe some land, and a few financial accounts such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. That’s it! It doesn’t take many assets to need to have a plan.

With Medicaid’s five year look-back period, I always recommend beginning your planning with plenty of time to spare. This typically means from 55 – 65 years of age. That being said, accidents happen and there is NO such thing as planning too early! There isn’t really such a thing as planning too late either, but planning later in life could bring some unwelcome disadvantages.

I discuss all of this during my Free Workshops! Click the Events page to see when I’ll be near you next and I invite you to come and see! We discuss planning options, when to plan, how to plan, why you plan, and even what the process looks like.

What have you got to lose…besides everything?

How is Pierchoski Estate Law different from most estate planning lawyers?


  1. All of our fees are fixed fees agreed to in advance, so there are no surprises. At our initial meeting you will choose the level of planning and fee that works best for your family, so there will never be any surprises.
  2. We keep you informed and make sure your plan works. We don’t just prepare a set of legal documents for you and send you on your way. We make sure your assets are owned in the right way, we make sure your kids’ well-being is properly planned for, we ensure everyone you’ve named in your plan knows what to do if anything happens to you.
  3. We review your plan at least every 3 years and annually through our Family Wealth Services. We foster a lifetime, ongoing relationship with our clients. We know that things change. Children grown up, grandkids are born, people may die. You may sell your property or even just refinance. Throughout your life, things change. You change; your assets change; your family changes; the law will definitely change.
  4. We have a team in place to answer your quick questions and to make the planning process easy and organized for you and your family. We have a process for helping you make sure that your assets are titled in the right way, both now and over your lifetime.
  5. We help you get your legal and financial house in order by helping you make smart choices about things like buying insurance, saving for college, and retirement planning so you never spend more than you have to or get taken advantage of by unscrupulous sales people.