Medicaid Planning In a Nutshell
Medicaid planning involves legally and ethically protecting assets for those who do not already qualify for Medicaid (because their income or assets are too high). Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to wait five years to be eligible for Medicaid if you consult with an experienced Medicaid planning expert.
Medicaid planning is also for people who are already Medicaid-qualified, but are expecting an influx of money (e.g.personal injury settlement or inheritance) that will make them ineligible for benefits. Much of the complexity associated with Medicaid planning happens when an individual’s monthly income or resources are either close to, or on the verge of being over, the financial eligibility limits. Incomes can be transferred into pooled special needs trust or a Miller Trust (also called income trusts or qualified income trusts), and resources in excess can be converted into non-countable assets in a myriad of ways in compliance with Federal Medicaid laws.
However, these kinds of transactions require a medicaid planning expert. I often get calls from people looking to apply for Medicaid in states other then Florida (I am only licensed in Florida and will only engage in Florida Medicaid Planning). For example, according to the American Council on Aging, “not all states allow seniors to convert their excess income into pooled income trusts, and in those states, doing so may result in Medicaid ineligibility. One other major complicating factor is when one spouse requires long-term care and the other can live independently.”
With this being said, why should anyone engage in Medicaid Planning or hire a medicaid planning expert? Families partake in Medicaid planning to ensure the greatest possibility of acceptance into the Medicaid program without having to be completely impoverished first. There are a plethora of reasons as to why one would invest in Medicaid planning – but mostly it boils down to making your money last longer to lead the highest possible quality of life.
Medicaid Planning is an Excellent Financial Investment
In reality, Medicaid planning can often be the single best investment one can make just in terms of pure financial returns.
If I told you that by investing between $2,000 and $5,000 (my typical Medicaid planning fees - they can sometimes be slightly lower or certainly higher depending on the complexity of the planning required), that I could guarantee a return of an extra $1,200.00 to $9,000.00 per month or more toward my client's long-term care costs (depending on whether the medicaid recipient was living at home, in an ALF or nursing home), and that this was all legal and ethical (nothing is hidden, in fact, I tell Medicaid exactly what I'm doing and why under Federal and Florida state law my client is entitled to benefits); AND without having to spend-down all of their assets; would that seem like a good investment? Of course. That isn't to say that I waive a magic wand and all is well. All Medicaid planning strategies come with pros and cons. But with the right combination of planning tools at our disposal we can really minimize the drawbacks.
In the grander scheme of things, long-term care can not only be very expensive, but families will always want the security and comfort of knowing their loved ones are receiving the care they need, but could not otherwise afford. Another explanation to take into account is how becoming Medicaid eligible, without spending all of your money first, is very complicated, and even the smallest of errors can result in a denial of benefits. This can be devastating to the health and happiness of the applicant, along with their caregivers and family members.
Because the application and review process are known for being time consuming, working with a lawyer who is a Medicaid planner can speed up this process and save applicants unnecessary stress.
Last but not least, getting involved in Medicaid Planning would help to ensure that a healthy spouse, who lives at home, will have the financial assets required to continue doing so and to prevent the family from being financially burdened due to a relative that requires expensive long-term care.
One might think that if they, or a loved one, are healthy that there is no valid reason to move forward with contacting a Medicaid planner, but it is best to prepare for long-term care needs before the chance of an actual need for it arises. If you do not have long-term care insurance (most Americans do not as it is very expensive), I advise to consider Medicaid planning after turning 65 years old.
Here at NKP - Elder Law and Medicaid Planning Attorneys, our mission is to empower our clients. Medicaid planning / incapacity planning law calls for a handful of problems that intersect with your estate planning documents. Planning for Medicaid in advance puts all the pieces of the Medicaid puzzle in place for when you need them – however certainly plenty of our elder law clients come to us looking for Medicaid now, not later (we can help both types of clients).
Whether you need Medicaid now, or want to plan ahead, ultimately, we empower our elder law clients with options as well as control for when long-term care is needed.
If you would like to read more about the basics of Medicaid Planning in Florida, and have an extra $1.99 - $6.99, please click the link check out my published book (click the link above to be taken to the Amazon page).
Thank you for reading this website. I work with clients throughout Florida. Please call to set up a consultation.