As we and our loved ones age, we become more and more dependent upon healthcare services. Eventually, many elderly individuals need continuous long-term skilled care at a nursing facility; however, nursing home care is expensive and being able to afford a nursing home is often a tremendous challenge. The high cost of long-term care can rapidly diminish even a life’s worth of saving in a relatively brief period of time. It is common for many independent-minded elderly persons to attempt to pay for nursing home care costs on their own. However, few people can afford to pay for long-term care for very long. And doing so can leave a healthy spouse destitute and deplete the inheritance they have worked long and hard to leave to their family.
Sadly, the money intended for an individual’s “golden years” or that which they planned to leave to a spouse or loved ones is rapidly consumed by medical costs. Interested in protecting their hard-earned assets, many individuals chose an alternative. They seek the assistance of an elder law attorney to guide them through the process of Medicaid Planning.
Protecting Your Hard-Earned Assets
If you are prudent, we can help you plan in advance so that if you need Nursing Home care down the road, you will qualify for benefits faster. Through the use of lawful strategies, you can protect your hard-earned assets.
Because each individual’s situation is unique, it is hard to provide you with general rules about how best to prepare for Medicaid. There are a few rules that hold true for the majority of situations, including:
- Gifts and asset transfers – Beware that gifts can render a Medicaid applicant ineligible for Medicaid benefits and there is a five (5) year look back for institutional care.
- Spending down – We can help you develop a plan to spend down money to qualify for Medicaid while at the same time ensuring that your money can be protected for the benefit of you and/or your spouse.
- Trusts – Under today’s laws, advance planning with certain types of irrevocable trusts offers the best asset long-term asset protection.
How it Works
Medicaid is a needs-based social welfare program provided to eligible New York residents who are unable to afford health insurance or otherwise pay for their own medical needs. Not to be confused with Medicare, an aged-based social welfare program, Medicaid is the government’s primary pay source for nursing home care. Medicare is insurance issued through the federal government and for most people over age 65, Medicare only covers a fraction of the cost of nursing home care.
Medicaid is a combination of both state and federal funding that covers a wide array of health services. Qualifying for Medicaid is determined by meeting certain financial requirements. The extent of an individual’s income and/or assets is the basis for eligibility.
The concept behind Medicaid Planning is a simple one. An individual interested in protecting his or her assets, such as a home, savings, or stock accounts makes an affirmative decision to transfer these assets to a spouse or loved ones before entering the nursing home. In doing this, the individual will reduce his or her assets and qualify for Medicaid. If done properly, upon entering the nursing home, Medicaid will then completely fund all expenses for the individual’s nursing home care.
Medicaid Planning can be done in advance or in a crisis. The key is that you have an attorney like Marguerite Fiore to guide you through this process. Medicaid planning is filled with pitfalls that can cause eligibility disqualification or lost asset protection if you go it alone or work with an attorney who is not experienced in this area.
In a crisis, Medicaid planning requires immediate action to preserve and protect an applicant’s remaining assets and income to the maximum extent permitted by law. This is true whether the applicant is seeking benefits at home or in a nursing home. Many seniors falsely believe that it is too late to do planning in a crisis – and sadly they are the folks who needlessly spend down everything they have ever saved thereby leaving them penniless. We urge you to at least learn about all of your legal options and make an informed decision.
In advance planning matters, we work with you to preserve your assets so that if you get sick and require nursing home care, you have already preserved your hard-earned assets. These strategies often trigger a five-year look back period so careful planning is essential.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Fiore Law Frim, P.C. will review your long-term care insurance policy, which can work very well if you have sufficient financial resources and passive cash flows to afford a large enough policy. However, the majority of people do not fall into that category.
Compassionate and Effective Counseling
There is no question that Medicaid Planning is a challenging time for individuals. It is difficult for individuals to relinquish control and possession of homes and savings they have owned for many years, even when they know it is for the best, and can determine where and to whom these items go. Moreover, many elderly individuals who have spent their lives providing and caring for others often wrestle with a loss of independence at this time.
Our approach to handling Medicaid Planning for you or your loved one is as much about compassion as it is about strategically analyzing the most effective way to allocate assets. She takes pride in knowing her clients, understanding their needs, and at the same time, guiding them with the necessary skill and knowledge to effectively address any and all legal complications they confront throughout the Medicaid Planning process.