Elder law is the system of laws and rules which affect the lives of older individuals and their families. Elder law includes planning for access to appropriate medical care, planning for and removing obstacles to financing the costs of care and using various legal devices such as a power of attorney, advanced directive, trusts or a guardianship to allow others to make decisions for individuals who are incapacitated or otherwise incapable of making decisions for themselves.
For eligible individuals, Medicaid pays the cost of long-term care including skilled nursing facilities. According to AARP, the average cost of care for a semi-private room in the Daphne, Fairhope, Foley area is over $6,000 per month. With such high costs, many individuals will, at least at some point, rely on Medicaid to help cover the costs.
In addition to medical and other requirements, a Medicaid applicant must be financially eligible. The financial rules for eligibility are not one size fits all. The particular income and asset requirements depends on certain circumstances and some assets and income are not counted toward he requirements. Blind assumptions about the financial requirements and which assets may or may not be counted toward the requirements could turn out to be very costly, especially in a situation where only one spouse from a marriage is in need of care.
Planning for medicaid eligibility usually takes two forms: advanced preventative planning and crisis planning.
Advanced Preventative Planning for Medicaid
The Medicaid rules are designed to prevent applicants or potential applicants from giving away all their assets to qualify for Medicaid. From the date application is made, there is a 60 month look back period for uncompensated transfers or gifts. Medicaid assesses penalties for gifts or uncompensated transfers occurring during the look back period. The penalty is referred to as a transfer penalty. The transfer penalty is assessed as a delay from in benefits from the time an applicant is otherwise eligible. The penalty is assessed in months calculated by the total amount of gifts and uncompensated transfers made during the look back period divided by the state monthly average nursing home cost.
By planning in advance, individuals can make the gifts they want to make to their family or others far enough before application to not result in a penalty. Individuals can also take steps to remove funds from their countable resources to ensure they have funds to supplement the benefits received from Medicaid. I use well developed techniques to help individuals accomplish these goals while retaining some measure of control and protection over assets and mitigating the consequences should a transfer penalty be imposed.
Crisis Planning for Medicaid
Crisis planning generally refers to the steps taken when a client is in immediate need of financial relief from long-term care services about to be provided or currently being provided. Through crisis planning, financial eligibility for Medicaid can be accomplished while also employing strategies to maximize the utility of excess assets for the support of a spouse still living in the community, for funds to supplement the client’s future needs not covered by Medicaid and to preserve assets intended to be given to heirs.
For more information or to setup an appointment to talk with me about how I can help, call me direct at (251) 215-9275