WHAT Are The Advantages Of Creating A Medicaid Plan?
We all know that preparation is key and that the best time to start preparing for your long-term care needs is before an actual need arises. Without advance preparation, many families have come to us in crisis or too late, having spent their life savings for out-of-pocket nursing home or other long-term care costs. It is heartbreaking to see a spouse come to us after his/her assets have completely run out.
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, nursing homes are expensive and can rapidly exhaust families entire life savings, potentially leaving the surviving spouse with a fraction of their savings. Medicaid planning allows you to pay for your long-term care, while also protecting your assets for your loved ones. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to lose everything prior to utilizing Medicaid. With the proper legal guidance, you can protect some of your assets.
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a federal-state program that provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including senior citizens (65 or older). It is the largest payer of nursing home bills in the United States and a final resort for those who have run out of ways to pay for their long-term care. To qualify, your assets and monthly income must fall below a minimum standard. We understand how this system works and we can help you prepare with proper Medicaid Planning.
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid planning is a way to understand and utilize the existing Medicaid rules of your state to create a future plan. Families come to us to ensure the best possibility of acceptance into the Medicaid program. Medicaid planning can be as simple as us assisting you with the collection and preparation of Medicaid documents to submit to the local Medicaid Office or if necessary, a re-structuring of your financial assets.
We understand that Medicaid Planning can seem overwhelming and that is why we take the time to explain how you can maximize your Medicaid benefits while staying within available asset limits and rules. Some of the Medicaid planning topics we discuss include:
- Sheltering countable assets
- Preserving assets for your beneficiaries / spouse
- Transferring and re-titling assets
- Spending down assets
For many on Medicaid, their home may be their only asset and sheltering it from the State and preserving it for their spouse and/or heirs is important. There are several strategies we can use to help you rearrange your finances and legally shelter your assets.
Below are just two of the items that can be used in the planning process:
- Irrevocable trusts – Property placed in an irrevocable trust is excluded from your financial portfolio and thus not considered a countable asset when determining Medicaid eligibility. There are terms that you must follow that cannot be changed when initiating an irrevocable trust.
- Annuities – An annuity can make sure that your healthy spouse is provided for with money to live on if/when you find yourself in need of nursing home care. Instead of pooling spouses assets, you can convert countable assets into an income stream, allowing each spouse to keep all of his or her income. This allows the person needing care to qualify for Medicaid while providing the healthy spouse with a steady stream of income.
Medicaid Planning Risks
It is important to be aware of the risks and potential drawbacks of Medicaid planning. You must consider time frames involved with look-back periods, potential Medicaid disqualification, estate recoveries and proposed changes to the Medicaid system. Again, we will help you navigate through the Medicaid rules and regulations.
The Law Office of Scott D. Bloom will make sure you are educated, well informed, and prepared for challenges when creating your plan. If you are ready to discuss Medicaid Planning or have additional questions, please feel free to contact us today!