Americans are living longer than ever, and services like home-based assistance and long-term care facilities that are designed for the needs of the elderly can be very expensive. Many people may even put off exploring options that might help them live more comfortably and safely if that would mean exhausting their savings and other financial resources. Proper Medicaid planning, however, may help you or someone you care about protect financial assets so that Medicaid can be used to pay for long-term care costs.
What Is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a partnership between federal and state governments that’s specifically designed to provide health care services to impoverished individuals. Medicaid is the country’s largest primary payer for both institutional and community-based long-term services for individuals over 65. Examples of such services include, assistance in the home with the routine activities of everyday life, as well as nursing facility care.
Medicaid eligibility rules are very complex. In addition to federal minimum standards and guidelines, individuals must also comply with the medical and financial criteria used to determine eligibility in the state they live in, and these may vary widely from state to state. Keep in mind, too, that a married couple’s financial assets will be considered jointly when determining one spouse’s Medicaid eligibility.
An elder law attorney with experience in Estate Planning and Elder Law can be of great assistance both in helping you understand the relevant Medicaid eligibility criteria in your state and in helping you protect your financial assets so that they won’t be depleted before you become eligible for Medicaid assistance.
Protecting Your Assets
A variety of legal instruments can be used to protect financial assets. For example, any financial assets that are placed in an irrevocable trust are no longer held in an individual’s name and won’t be considered for the purpose of determining Medicaid eligibility. Single premium immediate annuities purchased by one spouse will not be counted as joint income for the purpose of determining Medicaid eligibility.
Medicaid estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. No one set of planning strategies will fit the needs of every client since every client has his or her own unique financial profile and set of needs. Additionally, when you apply for Medicaid assistance, the state has the right to evaluate your financial history over the preceding five-year period. This makes it imperative to get started with Medicaid estate planning as soon as you can. For more information about Medicaid eligibility and estate planning, contact Felinton Elder Law in Florida at (561) 290-2179 or in Maryland at (301) 610-0055.