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Elder Law and Medicaid Planning

Elder Law and Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a State and Federally funded program to provide for the cost of Long-Term Skilled Nursing to those who financially qualify. It is not the same thing as Medicare. If you, a spouse or loved one has a long term illness and requires 24-hour care in a nursing home (skilled nursing facility), you may qualify for these benefits that will pay for the majority of your care and prescriptions.

If you have a spouse or loved one who is already on Medicaid and has a home, the government can recover any monies they spent on their care upon the death of your loved one. Recovery means the government will place a claim on existing assets of your loved one after they die, sometimes taking the whole estate! You can protect a home from recovery by very specific legal actions and with the help of a qualified attorney.

There are many myths out there about getting Medicaid and how to do it. However, if you follow any of the misinformation, you can risk not getting your loved one qualified or losing your home!

The good news is we are living longer.  The bad news is we are living longer. One of the biggest fears of our clients is outliving their assets.  When a person is diagnosed with a debilitating illness or disease, the family goes into crisis mode, and is immediately stressed out over the cost of care for such family member.

Sarah had never given much thought to nursing homes. All she knew about them was that her father did not want to go to one. He had made his intentions clear on many occasions. As her dad got older, Sarah and her siblings resolved that if anything ever happened to him, they would work together to take care of him at home. No one looked at long-term care options,and no one worried about paying for nursing home care.

Then, when Sarah’s dad was 75, he suffered a series of strokes. At first, the family struggled to take care of him on their own. Before too long, though, it became apparent that he needed more care than they could provide. A nursing home was their only option.

Sarah did her research, and found a nice place nearby. When she found out how much her dad’s room would cost, she was rendered speechless: almost $92,000 a year! She was even more shocked to find out this was about average, nationally speaking.

Dad had always saved diligently, and he had hoped to pass a small inheritance on to each of his children. However, after three years in the nursing home, the savings he had worked a lifetime to build had vanished. So had his children’s inheritances. At this point, Sarah helped him apply for Medicaid. He qualified, and his Medicaid benefits picked up where his savings had left off. Not only did they lose life savings but the state “recovered” dad’s house after his death to reimburse itself for money it had spent on dad’s care.

What Sarah and her dad didn’t know was that he didn’t have to impoverish himself in order to qualify for Medicaid…and neither do you. Additionally, their home could have been preserved for the kids without jeopardizing Medicaid benefits.

The need for nursing home care does not have to catch you off guard. A visit with a qualified estate planning and elder law attorney such as Maritess Bott – one who has experience helping families sort through their long-term care nursing home options and understands how the Medicaid program might apply to your situation – can help you understand the choices available to you and prepare for the future with a clear plan for how to pay for a nursing home without going broke or losing the family home.

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