When I expanded our law firm’s practice areas to include Elder Law (estate planning, incapacity planning, and my favorite and least understood: Medicaid Planning), plenty of people, including other lawyers, asked the same question: What is Elder Law? While we're on the subject: What is medicaid planning?
What is Elder Law | What Does an Elder Care Attorney do?
When people ask: what is elder law? I explain that elder care law is really an umbrella term encompassing multiple areas of law. Some elder care attorneys handle subjects that most people know something about, such as: probate, guardianship, estate planning. Other elder care lawyers focus their practice on some less-well-known areas of law such as: special needs planning, VA benefits planning, and, my favorite: medicaid planning. This then begs the question: what is Medicaid planning?
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid planning is a way to protect people’s assets from the threat of long-term care expenses. Most of my clients are between 65 and 90, own their own house and have between $50,000 and $750,000 worth of assets on top of the house. What many people don’t realize is exactly how expensive long term care expenses can be – the average costs of a skilled nursing facility, in Florida, is $8,662 per month. So someone can be solid middle class or upper middle class, have saved their whole life and think that they’ll have plenty of money for whatever happens only to suffer a stroke, major heart attack or get an Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diagnosis and need help with their activities of daily living. If they have this six-figure per year expense, most Floridians would lose everything – and many do.
Unbeknownst to most people – Medicare does not pay skilled nursing home expenses after 100 days.
An elder care attorney, who handles medicaid planning, is able to legally and ethically protect people’s assets to get them qualified for Medicaid. Medicaid, unlike Medicare, has an excellent long-term care benefit. This helps them supplement their lifestyle with their own assets (to improve the quality of their life while alive) and make it more likely that they will have something to pass onto their heirs after they pass away. Medicaid will pay for some home-health care, a significant portion of an Assisted Living Facility bill (if the ALF accepts Medicaid) and nearly 100% of a nursing home bill (all nursing homes in Florida must accept Medicaid as part of their licensing requirements).
What is amazing to me is how few people know that elder care attorney can assist with Medicaid planning - or even that this Medicaid long-term care benefit can become available to them prior to being forced into poverty.
Elder Care Attorney Speaker / Presentations
So, I’m trying to inform as many as possible by speaking as often as possible. I have given my "Medicaid Planning 101" presentation in front of a number of South Florida civic organizations, such as: Rotary Clubs; Kiwanis Clubs; Chambers of Commerce; and voluntary bar associations. My presentation is 100% educational. The only "salesy" aspect is that I bring brochures and cards and put them on a table and tell people that they are welcome to take one if interested on their way out - or not (no pressure either way).
The Medicaid 101 presentation has been really well-received. I can tailor the presentation to go for as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45 minutes…typically the service organizations want 10-20 minutes, while bar associations want closer to an hour so their members can get continuing learning education (CLE) credit.