As we age, we need to consider what assets and income sources are available to us for long-term care and nursing home care. Of course, we have all heard the stories about nursing homes that have a graduated payment system for the elderly, which typically results in washing away a person’s life savings. That unfortunate reality leaves many family members at a disadvantage. The person who needs care loses the ability to pass on the fruits of a lifetime of hard work, and the family members are not able to benefit in kind.
To avoid that reality that has fallen upon so many families, some planning is required. That includes planning your estate to use the Medicaid benefits that are available to you for later-in-life care.
This blog will cover some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to Medicaid benefits. Of course, these questions will only scratch the surface and may only lightly touch upon something that is relevant to your personal circumstances. In that vein, we invite you to speak with the Advanced Estate Planning attorneys at Doane & Doane.
At Doane & Doane, we have been working diligently for over a decade to properly advise and assist clients so they can make the most appropriate, cost-effective decisions for their lives and for their families. Planning for your, and your family’s, financial future is vital – now more than ever. Talk to a Doane & Doane attorney today. The consultation is free. Call us today at 561-656-0200.
FAQ 1 – How Long Must I Wait for Medicaid, After Giving Assets Away?
The general rule is that you must wait five years before obtaining Medicaid after you give assets away. So, for example, if you took all of your money and gave it your children, you would not qualify for Medicaid for five years. While you may have a low amount of assets to meet Medicaid requirements, you still must wait those five years.
It is important to note, however, that five years is the maximum. There is a chance that the wait might be for less than five years. Also, there are many exceptions to the five-year general rule. In sum, it would be worth it to consult with an Advanced Estate Planning attorney, like the attorneys at Doane & Doane, to understand whether that five-year rule applies to your specific circumstances.
FAQ 2 – Can I Protect Some Assets, Yet Still Be Eligible for Medicaid Benefits?
It is possible to protect some of your assets while still being eligible for Medicaid. To achieve that result, however, you must engage in what is called “Medicaid planning.” That is something you will not likely be able to tackle by yourself. You would need the advice, counsel, and experience of a seasoned Medicaid planning attorney. As noted, the attorneys at Doane & Doane are just the kind of attorneys to handle your Medicaid planning challenges.
Protect your assets by speaking with a Doane & Doane attorney today. Remember, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Make sure that you plan now so you can take advantage of Medicaid benefits later.
FAQ 3 – Are Spouses Legally Responsible for Medicaid Expenses of a Spouse Who is Ill?
Healthy spouses are not legally responsible. However, if the healthy spouse (often called the “community spouse” because he or she still lives in the community) has a significant amount of assets, that fact may disqualify the unhealthy spouse for Medicaid benefits. That is true even though the unhealthy spouse is living in long-term care.
In Florida, however, there is a fairly easy way around the danger of being disqualified. Again, to learn how to avoid a community spouse having assets that disqualify the other spouse, call one of our attorneys at Doane & Doane.
FAQ 4 – Do Medicaid Rules Vary from State to State?
Yes. To participate in Medicaid, states have to meet a number of core federal requirements. That said, states are given a substantial amount of flexibility to go beyond program minimums for benefits and coverage.
States have flexibility on how treatment is delivered, on what treatments are covered, and how providers are paid. Accordingly, there is a substantial amount of variation in Medicaid programs from state to state. Further, state budgets impact Medicaid spending. Thus, the rules may change in a state from time to time.
Accordingly, you would be wise to consult with a Medicaid attorney to know the rules specific to Florida.
FAQ 5 – What Are Non-Countable Assets?
Non-countable assets are assets that Medicaid does not consider available to the Medicaid applicant and/or his or her spouse. In order to be eligible for Medicaid, your countable assets (those assets that Medicaid counts when making eligibility determinations) cannot be more than $2,000 per month.
The assets that do not go into the $2,000 or less of countable assets include the following.
- A home up to approximately $500,000 of equity (the number is adjusted for inflation);
- In Florida, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are typically not countable; and
- Rental property may not be countable.
There are other more specific non-countable assets that may apply to your circumstances. Consult an experienced Medicaid attorney to learn more about those types of assets.
South Florida Medicaid Attorneys are Available to Assist You With Important Medicaid Planning
Medicaid planning is an extremely worthwhile effort. By doing a little planning, it could mean more assets available to pass on to your family while still having income to cover your long-term care needs. We at Doane & Doane are available to help you with Medicaid planning.
Doane & Doane is rated AV® Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell®, the nation’s oldest and foremost peer-review law firm rating authority. We believe that achieving the highest rating possible is a testament to our unwavering commitment to working for our clients with passion, intellect, diligence, and care.
When we opened our firm over a decade ago, we have worked tirelessly to earn a reputation as the best estate planning law firm in Palm Beach County, Florida. We believe that we are successfully moving towards that goal. Let us help you with your estate planning today. We welcome you to contact us and schedule an in-person, or over-the-phone, consultation about your case. Call us at 561-656-0200. We are ready to help you with your Medicaid planning and more.