The Importance of Medicaid Planning
As people continue to live longer lives, the possibility of needing long-term care increases. It is not something people like to think about but need to plan for to make sure they are putting themselves and their families in the best position possible if they were to need long-term care. While this means estate planning and end of life planning, it also means Medicaid planning.
Whether it is to care for a specific cognitive illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or any number of physical ailments leaving them unable to care for themselves, going into nursing home care requires us to examine a host of issues. The notion that long-term care only lasts a few years is no longer the reality most people face. The rise of memory care issues such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia means that folks are residing in long-term care facilities for far longer than they used to, for periods upwards of eight years. With the average cost of long-term care being $120,000.00 a year, this results in a devastating hit for most people’s financial assets and legacy.
Planning for the Costs of Long-Term Care
The costs of long-term care, and the burden it places on our families, can be enormous, and overwhelming. However, there are ways to protect yourself from the costs of nursing home care.
Planning for Medicaid will give you options when the time comes. Part of this planning involves being eligible for Medicaid, and not being penalized during the five-year lookback period Medicaid uses when determining if a person is eligible.
Exceeding Asset Limits for Medicaid
There are ways to deal with exceeding the asset limits for Medicaid. These involve paying down assets, making sure your property in the community is below the limit, reducing assets by paying off debt, transferring assets, and reducing assets by purchasing assets exempt under Medicaid. An elder law attorney at The Mattar Firm can help you set up a sound financial plan, and meet the requirements to qualify for Medicaid.
It is also possible to create a life estate. A life estate is a real estate transfer where a person sells or gives their home but retains the right to live in it until they die, or their spouse passes away. This is done to protect the asset from nursing homes and Medicaid. A life estate is a form of joint ownership of a property, between two or more people, and at different times. Essentially, the owner of the property has control of it until their death, at which time the co-owner takes control of the property. Be aware that this arrangement can trigger a five-year Medicaid ineligibility period. It can be avoided if the person purchasing the life estate lives in the home for at least a one-year period, and pays a fair amount of the life estate. Life estates can also be used as a way to have the property not involved in the probate process.
Not all irrevocable trusts are the same. This is a key distinction that you will hear throughout your education with The Mattar Firm. The right irrevocable trust can help you avoid having to give away or spend your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. The most common irrevocable trust does is place your assets in a trust, making them no longer yours. An independent trustee must be named, and the assets can be passed on to your spouse or family after your death. In this setup, you cannot control the trust’s principal, but you may use the assets during your lifetime.
However, there is no need to lose control over your assets or have someone else manage them. The Mattar Firm offers a unique Asset Protection trust that offers all of the protection benefits of a traditional irrevocable trust AND allows you, the owner of assets, to be a trustee. You will learn more about this trust at our workshop! It is a breakthrough trust in Asset Protection and ensures that folks are able to protect assets while remaining in full control of them.
Contact The Mattar Firm
Advanced planning for Medicaid is important, especially when you would like to keep your home or assets in the family. Advanced planning will also allow you to get through Medicaid’s five-year lookback and avoid any penalties involved with the lookback period. At The Mattar Firm, our experienced Medicaid planning lawyers can help guide you through the Medicaid process. Contact us today at 239-222-2222.