Have you found that planning for long-term care can be complex? It is true. Not only is every individual’s situation unique, but every state has their own eligibility rules for Medicaid. It may be important to seek out and consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your area to get assistance navigating these intricacies. These are some of the common mistakes that people make when applying for Medicaid without the assistance of a competent attorney.
- Relying on Unreliable Sources. Medicaid is a state program, funded in part by the federal government. Each state has its own rules and regulations, including different requirements for eligibility. A well-intended friend or family member from another state may not have accurate information about the requirements in your state. The best source of information can be an elder law attorney with experience applying for Medicaid in the state in which your loved one intends to apply.
- It is Too Late to Plan. It may never be too late to plan. While sooner is better, it is possible to begin planning after a senior or disabled person enters a nursing home, and still save much of the senior or disabled person’s assets.
- Giving Away Assets Too Early. These assets belong to the senior or disabled person, and giving them away prematurely can put the person at risk. These gifts can also result in tax and Medicaid problems, and should always be properly documented.
- Ignoring Safe Harbors Created by Congress. Certain transfers and gifts are allowed without jeopardizing Medicaid eligibility, including gifts to disabled children, caretaker children, certain siblings, and more. An elder law attorney can help you make sure that the gifts will not endanger Medicaid eligibility.
- Failing to Protect the Spouse of a Nursing Home Resident. These protections may include purchase of an immediate annuity, petitioning for an increased community spouse resource allowance, and sometimes petitioning for increased income allowance. It can be important to talk with a knowledgeable elder law attorney about how to protect the assets and interests of the at-home spouse.
- Applying for Medicaid Too Early or Too Late. Sometimes, applying for Medicaid within five years of making a gift will result in a longer period of ineligibility. Applying too late, however, can result in spending more assets that could have been protected by proper planning. Timing is critical.
- Failing to Keep Records. Audits are common for Medicaid applications. It can be important that the applicant keep all records that support his or her application, including the disposition of any assets during the five years leading up to the application. Medicaid asset protection planning can be complicated. For most people, this planning is required only once in their lives. Since the consequences of poor planning can leave families unnecessarily impoverished, it is important to consult with an experienced elder law attorney when nursing home care is necessary.
For more information about long-term care assistance, Medicaid planning, and related elder law issues, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.