The people in Bonita Springs work hard to accumulate
the wealth that they turn into their estates. It is important to be able to put
together a strong estate that ensures that your assets are distributed in the
ways that you want them to be. But if you are not careful, then you could make
some common mistakes that damage your Bonita Springs estate and put your
family’s future at risk.
Over the years, many people have incorrectly used the
terms Medicare and Medicaid interchangeably to the point where there is a lot
of confusion among the public. Medicare and Medicaid are two completely
different public health insurance options, and it is important to understand
their basic differences if you intend to use each service properly.
For some people, the idea of signing over their home to
their children later in life sounds appealing. They figure that the home would
stay in the family, and the parents can reap some benefits such as a lower
asset amount when applying for Medicaid. But the truth is that the act of
transferring your home to your children is potentially one of the worst
decisions you could ever make.
For Fort Myers residents who are making the transition
into an assisted living facility, Medicaid can offer valuable financial
assistance. But if those residents did not plan their Medicaid application
process properly, then there could be Medicaid penalties to pay that will cost
a lot of money.
When a court decides that a special needs individual
needs someone to act as their legal representative, that individual is referred
to as a ward of the state. The first order of business for the courts is to
assign a guardian for the ward. In Bonita Springs, the courts like to act
quickly in these cases to help protect the interests of the ward. That is why
it is important for Bonita Springs families to understand the qualifications
for being a guardian in the event that the family experiences an unexpected
When a Medicaid recipient who was living in an assisted
living facility that was partially or wholly paid for be Medicaid passes away,
Medicaid will do what is known as an estate recovery. Under state and federal
laws, Medicaid is allowed to liquidate portions of the deceased’s estate to
recover as much of the costs of long-term care as possible. Under some
circumstances this would include the home of the deceased if the deceased had a
financial interest in the home. But there are instances where Medicaid cannot
liquidate a home to recover costs.
Estate planning is a complicated process that should
only be handled by an experienced professional. Every Port Charlotte resident
should have an estate in place that is administered by an expert, and every
resident should also be tutored on the kind of mistakes that can damage your
estate and make protecting your assets difficult.
Medicaid planning is a very important part of the elder
law process. If you do not prepare for Medicaid properly, you could wind up
losing assets that are very important to you and your family. Luckily, there
are assets that are already exempt from Medicaid which you and your family are
allowed to keep, even after the Medicaid recipient has passed away.
There is a lot for a Medicaid applicant to understand
when it comes to applying for Medicaid benefits. One of the more significant
topics to understand is Medicaid penalties and how they can affect your ability
to qualify for Medicaid. If you do your Medicaid application planning well in
advance, then the penalties are not quite as intimidating. But if you waited
until it was time for you or your loved one to transfer to assisted living to
submit your application, then you could be looking at penalties.
As you start to transition your life to an assisted
living facility, you will need to get the Medicaid application process started.
It is important to understand that the Medicaid application process is
complicated and can take a long time. It is not something you should try to do
without the help of an experienced legal professional. There can be a lot of
different things that affect your Medicaid application and your ability to get
the benefits when you need them.
The Medicaid Look-Back Period
When you apply for Medicaid, there is a look-back
period that Medicaid uses to establish how well you have handled your assets.
Medicaid will review your asset distribution for the past five years to
determine your overall eligibility. Any major shift in assets is going to
normally count against you and delay your approval. For example, if you moved
$10,000.00 in assets four years ago as a gift to one of your children and the
average cost per month for an assisted living facility is $5,000.00, then your
approval will be delayed by two months.
What About Charitable Donations?
Usually, Medicaid does not discriminate between the
types of asset transfers your history may have. Medicaid would look at large
charity donations in the same way it would look at large financial gifts to
family members. If it looks like the intent is to lower the amount of assets to
increase the Medicaid eligibility, then Medicaid will normally frown upon
There Can Be An Exception
There are many people who have made it a habit to make
large donations to their favorite church for many years. In some cases, if you
can prove that your charitable donations were a consistent trend and not a
one-time event, then Medicaid might consider allowing your charitable donations
to not count against your look-back period.
What About Other Assets?
There can be a long list of dangers involved in trying
to move large assets just before you start your Medicaid application. It is
possible that the house you transferred to your children to keep in the family
could be liquidated by Medicaid after you pass away. Not only do you put
yourself at risk when you try to move assets ahead of a Medicaid application,
but you can put your family at risk as well.
The Best Solution
You should have an experienced legal firm handle your
Medicaid application process for you. Crisis Medicaid planning is done when you
are on the verge of transitioning to assisted living but have not made any
provisions to protect your assets. This sort of service can be invaluable as
you prepare for a new chapter in your life.
The Mattar Firm offers crisis Medicaid planning services through our compassionate team of lawyers. We invite you to give us a call and let us help you through the application process.