If you are confused about Medicaid, rest assured you are not alone. Medicaid is a complicated and constantly changing area of the law that can be overwhelming to most. Fortunately, it does not have to be. Deborah Sexton specializes in caring for the legal needs of elderly clients in Fayetteville and throughout Arkansas, including protecting their assets if the time comes to apply for Medicaid benefits. The substantial cost of nursing home care for an incapacitated person can wipe out a family’s nest egg, as well as the inheritance planned for surviving relatives. Medicaid is the most common alternative to paying the nursing home.
Fayetteville Arkansas Elder Law and Medicaid Questions
What Is Elder Law?
Elder Law involves planning for the complex health care, long-term care and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. Although every client’s specific needs are different, Fayetteville Arkansas elder law attorneys generally focus on Medicaid and Medicare benefits for long-term care, estate planning and administration, guardianships and conservatorships and establishing and administering various kinds of trusts.
Why Is It Important To Qualify For Medicaid?
It may come as a surprise, but our life expectancy is considerably longer today than it was just a few generations ago. However, living longer can come at a high price due to long-term care and health care costs. These expenses can quickly diminish a life savings without careful planning. As such, we all need to incorporate Medicaid planning into our overall estate plans to ensure we receive the maximum benefits from the program without putting all of our assets in jeopardy.
The average stay in a long-term care facility is 30 months. With the average annual cost of a long-term care facility running around $75,000, the bill for a stay in a long-term care facility can quickly deplete a life savings if you are forced to pay for it out of pocket. Unlike Medicare, the Medicaid program will cover some of the costs associated with long-term care, which is why it is important to qualify for the program.
What Is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid is a government program that assists low-income individuals in paying for medically necessary medical services. The resource limit for an individual is $2,000 and for a couple is $3,000. Although certain assets, such as your homestead, are excluded when calculating your resources, it is easy for your savings to be depleted quickly before Medicaid starts paying for long-term care costs. The purpose of Medicaid planning is to prevent that from happening.
Simply transferring assets out of your name when you realize you need to qualify for Medicaid does not work because the Medicaid guidelines include a “look-back” period. In essence, the look back period is a period of time prior to application during which you cannot have made any asset transfers. Because of this rule, many clients have the mistaken impression that there is nothing that can be done to protect assets from nursing home costs.
However, with careful pre-planning you may be able to retain control of your hard earned assets and still qualify for Medicaid when the time comes. For example, it isn’t always necessary to wait 5 years after gifting assets to become eligible for Medicaid. The answer actually depends upon the specific facts of your case. The earlier you start planning the better. Whether you are facing long-term care issues yourself or you have a family member who is, call us with your Fayetteville Arkansas elder law and Medicaid questions.