Whether you have a parent who needs an aide during their rehabilitation after a difficult surgery, or you are looking for a facility for yourself, financing long-term care can be very challenging. If you have looked into home care arrangements or a nursing home, you probably already know that bills for quality services can easily be thousands of dollars a month. With federal funding programs available through Medicaid, it is possible to alleviate the burden of paying for long-term care. However, the state has the duty to try to recover any funds spent on an individual’s care from their estate, usually after their passing. That means, your loved ones’ inheritance could eventually be threatened, and they could lose their business or home to the state. With the help of a specialized elder law attorney, you can plan ahead for your assets so that Medicaid funding could be available to you without the extra cost to your family later on.
Who can get Medicaid?
Many families and individuals try to relieve their financial burden by applying for federal assistance available through Medicaid. However, to get approved, one has to fit very narrow criteria in terms of their income and assets and it is not uncommon for those who don’t fit these criteria to still struggle to afford long-term care. Importantly, with the help of an elder law attorney, many are able to redistribute their properties and other assets, and get approved for Medicaid financial assistance.
Home ownership and Medicaid
Some of the time, home ownership may impede you from being approved for Medicaid-based long-term care funding. In this instance, simply transferring ownership to somebody else may not be enough. Medicaid applications require you to disclose all properties owned in the last five years, and if the transfer did not happen in a timely manner, past ownership can just as easily become an issue and cause you to lose or delay your funding. While there are some common exemptions, like transferring your home to a spouse or to a child who has been living with you, in most instances, the process is quite complicated and requires the help of a licensed and experienced legal professional.
Spousal income and Medicaid
While the applicant’s spouse is legally entitled to half of their mutually owned assets, Medicaid can still go after those assets that exceed approximately $120,000 in total countable value. In some states, the spouse can get additional protections by issuing a refusal to support the applicant, exercising their right to not be burdened by another person’s expenses if that is not what they wish. Indeed, in the states where this right is upheld, the refusal can rarely be seriously challenged. Still, even in those instances, the state has the option of trying to recoup funds spent on the person’s care by filing a claim against their estate after their passing.
Why do I need an attorney?
A Medicaid application is long and cumbersome, with many ambiguous elements. A skilled elder law attorney can help you complete the application correctly and to the best of your benefit. Unlike a Medicaid specialist, they are not sponsored by any particular facility, and are only interested in helping you find the best possible arrangement for your long-term care. They can be an advocate for you both during the application process, and while your Medicaid is “Pending,” or in the process of being reviewed by the state. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are often reluctant to accept a Medicaid recipient during the time that their application is pending, as they have to wait until approval for reimbursement. Having an attorney on your side in such a case could be very helpful.
You have worked hard and you deserve to be taken care of in your later years. Start preparing for a comfortable future now and call to discuss Medicaid Planning with an elder law attorney!