Aging farmers in WI fear nursing care may cost farm
MADISON (AP) - Aging farmers are growing more concerned about what happens to the family farm once they're gone.
The Wisconsin Farm Center's economic development consultant, Frank Friar, told Wisconsin Public Radio it has helped develop about 200 transition plans with farmers over the past couple of years. The majority are concerned about what happens if they end up in a nursing home.
"If they've had parents in a nursing home, they know some of the consequences. They've watched their savings dwindle away. It's a difficult situation," Friar said. "They want to pay their own way and be good citizens, but they don't want to lose the farm in doing it."
Attorney George Twohig advises producers on transferring farms to the next generation. He said many farmers are tight on cash but have a lot of assets.
"So they become concerned that real estate would have to be sold to pay for the cost of long-term care," Twohig said.
Twohig said many people are considering Medicaid trusts, where farmers divest their assets to protect the farm.
"If we divest the assets, give them away and reduce the person's assets down to where they qualify for medical assistance, the idea is that eventually they will qualify to have the government pay for long-term care," he said.
He said the trusts are sometimes a good solution but not a cure-all.
Some farmers are pursuing other options, such as purchasing life insurance or long-term care insurance, to protect the farm from asset recovery related to health care costs.