What Is Medicaid Planning for Nursing Home Care?

What Is Medicaid Planning for Nursing Home Care?

Covering the exceedingly high costs of potential long-term and nursing home care is one of the primary concerns of seniors as they age. Planning ahead to address these expenses is the best approach for preserving assets and, in some cases, may help an individual become eligible for Medicaid benefits for long-term and nursing home care. At Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, our services include Medicaid planning, which is a process for developing a sound strategy to achieve eligibility for Medicaid long-term care and nursing home benefits while maximizing the protection of assets.

Medicaid Basics

Medicaid is a jointly-administered federal and state government program that provides specific benefits to eligible individuals. The available benefits include expenses for long-term care and nursing home care. However, the program is needs-based. Strict income and asset eligibility requirements are part of the complex regulations that govern the program.

Fortunately, Medicaid provides strategies and tools that can be used to help an individual meet the eligibility requirements, even in situations where it appears they may not qualify. But using these tools requires assistance from a knowledgeable professional who is familiar with the detailed regulations.

If an individual attempts to qualify for Medicaid on their own by transferring assets to family members, those efforts may actually cause even greater problems. Medicaid has a five-year look back period in calculating assets for eligibility purposes. Certain types of transfers within that five-year period result in the assets still being counted, and the transfer may actually result in delaying receipt of benefits, in addition to creating other serious issues.

Getting professional help in qualifying for Medicaid long-term and nursing home benefits can achieve a number of important goals, and avoid significant potential pitfalls. In addition to avoiding asset transfer limitations, Medicaid planning can provide protection for many of an individual’s assets, including the family home, as well as achieve Medicaid eligibility. Advance planning may also avoid Medicaid estate recovery, a process through which the government recovers paid benefits from a deceased beneficiary’s estate.

The Medicaid Planning Process

Medicaid rules include detailed eligibility requirements relating to income and asset levels, and specific rules on how income and assets are counted for eligibility purposes. An analysis of an individual’s income sources and assets is an important early step in the Medicaid planning process. Professional assistance is critical in this part of the process, to ensure an accurate analysis under the applicable regulations. Previous blog posts provide examples of how complex the analysis can be:

After understanding the individual’s personal and financial circumstances, a Medicaid planning professional can develop a specific strategy to maximize asset protection while achieving eligibility for benefits. Fortunately, the Medicaid regulations provide specific tools that may be used as part of this process.

Trusts are an important tool in the Medicaid planning process. A carefully structured trust may provide important protection for assets, while achieving Medicaid eligibility under income and asset restrictions. An individual should never attempt to create a trust on their own without assistance from an experienced Medicaid planning attorney. To be effective, a Medicaid trust must meet specific guidelines and requirements. Trying to create a trust without professional help is a serious mistake.

Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care

Planning ahead for nursing home and long-term care costs is extremely important. In most cases, seniors should begin planning no later than 10 years before the need may arise. For Medicaid purposes, the five-year look-back period can be a significant obstacle if planning is delayed. Advance planning provides the best opportunity for protecting and preserving assets, while achieving other important goals.

Regardless of whether qualifying for Medicaid benefits is a concern, nursing home planning should be part of the estate planning process for every senior. With the costs of long-term care and nursing home care increasing substantially every year, a sound estate plan should anticipate the potential need for care later in life. At Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, our practice focuses on helping individuals and married couples establish an estate plan that fully addresses their anticipated needs and their goals at every stage of life.

Talk With Our Georgia Medicaid Planning Attorneys

In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help seniors and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Medicaid planning and nursing home planning are an important part of our services. If you need to plan for Medicaid, nursing home care, and other long-term needs for yourself or a loved one, we can answer all your questions and help you make the right decisions.

We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.

Categories: Medicaid