PRESERVING YOUR ASSETS!
An important part of Elder law practice is assisting seniors to maintain as much independence as possible, afford quality health care, and preserve assets so that they may enjoy an appropriate quality of life. Despite best efforts, some seniors will need nursing home care and few have the resources to pay for that care, at least for long. Without an attorney‘s help, seniors will pay almost all of their assets to a nursing home until they reach extreme poverty levels.
In Florida, persons over the age of 65 currently qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits if they meet the care criteria for a nursing home, have less than $2,000 in assets (some assets, such as a homestead, are exempt), and receive less than $2,094 per month in income (income includes not only the net money received; it also includes money deducted for Medicare Part B & D premiums and other deductions). Seniors who meet these criteria do not need an attorney’s assistance. However, seniors who have more than $2,000 in assets and/or more than $2,094 per month income can benefit greatly from attorney assistance.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Federal and state officials recognize the hardship of Medicaid-qualification criteria and allow specific methods to preserve assets. For example, income greater than $2,094 per month can be paid through a special type of trust for nursing home fees. Assets over $2,000 can be placed in certain types of trusts, investments, or annuities or used for the benefit of a spouse or disabled child or pre-paid for necessary services. However, the allowed methods are very specific and can change. GIVING ONE’S MONEY AWAY IS NOT AN ALLOWED METHOD. Medicaid authorities will “look back” five years to make sure that a potential Medicaid recipient has not given their assets away in order to qualify for Medicaid, and they will deny benefits for a period of time, up to five years, if that happened.
Without “Medicaid planning,” a nursing home resident may have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay the nursing home fee. Even if the resident’s income falls under the $2,094 cap, he or she will have to pay all but $35 of to the nursing home. Anything not provided by the nursing home, such as clothing, special food, treats, hairstylist services, private television or radio, motorized scooters, specialized wheelchairs, private attendant care, visits outside the nursing home, etc., must be purchased from this $35 or provided by friends or family. With Medicaid planning, assets can be preserved for these and other items that contribute so greatly to quality of life.
Cathy Blackburn provides comprehensive Medicaid planning for seniors facing nursing home care. In most cases, she can structure assets to qualify for Medicaid benefits while still caring for a spouse or disabled child living in the community, pre-paying for personal care services that the nursing home does not provide, and investing in trusts, annuities, or other vehicles so that funds can be used to supplement Medicaid benefits. With this comprehensive service, Cathy manages the entire Medicaid qualification process — she will help to gather necessary information and documentation, complete and file the application, meet with Medicaid authorities, and work with authorities to approve the application. Cathy will also prepare all legal documents, including a will, trusts, power of attorney, health care surrogate designation, living will, personal care contracts, or other documents.
If you or a loved one need nursing home care but have more than $2,000 in assets or more than $2,094 per month in income, call Cathy now. The sooner she helps to structure assets, meet Medicaid qualification criteria, and apply for benefits, the more assets are preserved for you or your loved one’s needs. Emergency assistance is available. Do not hesitate to call even on weekends, after hours, or late in the month.