When a loved one enters a nursing home, the cost of care can be financially devastating for families. Medicaid can help cover the costs of long-term care for those who qualify, but the process of applying for Medicaid and protecting assets can be complex and overwhelming. This is where an experienced attorney can help.
Medicaid is a needs-based program, which means that in order to qualify, individuals must have limited income and assets. However, with proper planning, it is possible to protect assets and still qualify for Medicaid. This process is known as Medicaid crisis planning.
One of the first steps in Medicaid crisis planning is to understand the Medicaid eligibility rules. This includes understanding the income and asset limits, as well as the rules for transferring assets. It’s important to note that Medicaid has a five-year look-back period, which means that they will look back at your financial transactions for the five years prior to your application for long-term care services to see if you have transferred assets for less than fair market value.
One strategy for protecting assets is to set up a trust specifically for long-term care expenses. This type of trust can be funded with assets such as real estate, stocks, or other investments, and it can be used to pay for long-term care expenses without affecting other assets or leaving less for loved ones. Additionally, gifting assets can also be a strategy to reduce the value of your estate and qualify for Medicaid. However, it is important to be mindful of the Medicaid five-year look-back period.
Another strategy for protecting assets is to transfer assets to a loved one. However, it is important to be aware of Medicaid’s rules for transferring assets and the potential consequences of such transfers, such as penalties. An attorney can help advise on the best course of action and assist with the transfer process.
It is also important to consider the role of a power of attorney in Medicaid crisis planning. A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Without a power of attorney, your loved ones may have to go through a long and expensive court process to be appointed as your legal guardian or conservator, which can delay your care and add additional stress to your loved ones.
It is also important to review your current estate plan and make any necessary updates. An attorney can help ensure that your estate plan is consistent with your Medicaid crisis plan and that it properly protects your assets while also addressing your long-term care needs.
Finally, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your Medicaid application is properly prepared and submitted. The application process can be complex and time-consuming, and an attorney can help ensure that all required documentation is submitted and that your application is processed as quickly as possible.
In conclusion, Medicaid crisis planning is an essential part of any estate plan when a loved one enters a nursing home. It’s important to consider all options and to have a plan in place that will help cover the costs of long-term care while also protecting your assets and your loved ones. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure that your assets are protected while also addressing your long-term care needs.
If you have a loved one that has recently entered a nursing home, please contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help.