Outliving Your Money
Many people over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point. Long-term care is frequently a concern, as you don’t want your healthcare costs to eat up all the wealth you’ve spent a lifetime working for.
The practice of elder law encompasses long-term care planning and Medicaid planning. Qualifying and becoming eligible to receive Medicaid can help cover expenses like insurance, home health services, adult daycare, rehab, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, assisted living, nursing facilities and more.
Qualifying for Medicaid
For someone to receive Medicaid, there are both medical and financial requirements that need to be met. Many people think that they won’t be able to financially qualify for Medicaid as there are strict asset and income limitations. Most people receiving social security and a pension will exceed both the asset and income limit.
Medicaid planning often requires considering the interest of both spouses. One spouse might be trying to qualify for Medicaid, while the other is still living at home and wants to maintain their lifestyle.
Luckily, there are strategies an attorney can employ that allow an individual to meet the financial requirements, qualify for Medicaid, and receive the care they need.
How can an Elder Law Attorney help?
The asset limit for an individual is $2,000 in countable assets at the time of applying for Medicaid. However, not all assets are counted in the financial or asset limit. The state of Florida differentiates between countable and non-countable assets.
In addition, the state of Florida also has a five-year ‘look back period’ to see if you made any non-exempt transfers. In other words, you can’t give money away today and apply for Medicaid tomorrow.
Despite these hurdles, there are certain transfers prior to a Medicaid application that the state of Florida does permit. These transfers are called exempt transfers. Most Medicaid strategies involve exempt transfers.
Hampton Law specializes in developing a plan tailored to your needs, that will allow you to preserve as many assets as possible while still qualifying for Medicaid.
** Hot Tip – The Difference Between Medicaid and Medicare **
Medicaid and Medicare are both federally funded programs that pay for health care related expenses. Medicare is a health insurance program that pays for individuals over the age of 65, or have been determined disabled by the Social Security Administration. Medicaid is a state administered program that pays for certain individuals with limited financial resources.
Avoid Medicaid Planning Mistakes
The rules involving Medicaid eligibility are complex. You can’t simply transfer your assets to a friend or relative and expect to qualify. There is a look-back period, and transfers made during the look-back period may be subject to a penalty.
In addition, you want to be wary of third-party services that say they can easily help you apply for Medicaid at a nominal fee. This is a complex process that involves drafting legal documents, protecting, and moving your assets, and corresponding and providing documentation to the Department of Children and Families. Many times, the process of becoming Medicaid eligible can take as long as six months to a year. It can be an arduous process and not one that you want to take a chance on. Make sure you’re consulting with an experienced attorney.
What To Do Now
The best way to develop a good Medicaid eligibility plan is to consult with an elder law attorney before you need long-term care. You will have more options if you start early and plan ahead.
Depending on your age and health, you will want to make sure long-term care planning is part of your estate plan. By working with an estate planning and elder law firm like Hampton Law, we’re able to see you through this entire process from start to finish. We guide you through the estate planning process with long-term care in mind. You don’t need to hire another attorney later; you would just come back to us when the need arises.