Medicaid Planning Attorney In New York
When Hudson Valley residents consider meeting with a Medicaid Planning Attorney, it's not unusual for them to be unfamiliar with the concept. They know that this program offers essential health coverage to elderly adults who may be faced with mounting medical costs. However, they may have misconceptions about how to use Medicaid and its eligibility limitations that only a medicaid planning attorney can help guide them through.
At the Law Office of Kyle Steller, New York residents have a valuable opportunity to learn about what Medicaid is as well as its advantages and pitfalls. With well-informed Medicaid Planning, it's possible for people to pay for the care that they need without losing their nest egg. Accordingly, they are able to look forward to leaving their assets to their loved ones, exactly as they intended.
What is Medicaid Planning
Medicaid planning is a process through which an individual's assets are protected against the threat of long-term care. Many elderly Americans own a home, and they also may have other assets that help them meet the expenses of daily living.
However, what happens if that individual suffers a major heart attack or stroke or receives a diagnosis of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's? Any of these medical concerns can interfere with the person's ability to complete the activities of daily living, perhaps on a long-term or even permanent basis.
Suddenly, the idea of living a totally independent lifestyle is all-but-impossible. The individual is faced with needing ongoing in-home care or is forced to move to a nursing home or other care facility.
All of these options involve considerable expenses. Residence in a skilled nursing facility frequently costs in excess of $9,000 per month. Even someone with a tidy nest egg will see it quickly depleted when faced with the need for long-term care.
With the assistance of an elder care attorney, it's possible to use ethical and legal means to protect the individual's assets and still enable them to qualify for Medicaid. Accordingly, it's possible to supplement their lifestyle while still living and improve their chances of being able to pass inheritances on to heirs as they wish.
Doesn't Medicare Cover Long-Term Expenses?
Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will cover their expenses if long-term care is required. However, Medicare does not cover the costs associated with a stay in a nursing home past 100 days. This means that this program cannot be counted on to defray these expenses.
Alternatively, Medicaid features robust protection for long-term care recipients. The program covers some portions of home-health care, as well as most of the bills associated with an assisted living facility and all of nursing home bills, as long as the nursing home accepts Medicaid.
Almost Anyone May Qualify for Medicaid
Many people do not believe that they are eligible for Medicaid coverage because they have too many assets. While it is true that Medicaid is subject to strict eligibility requirements, it is not true that you must exhaust all of your assets before you can apply for assistance from Medicaid.
With Medicaid planning, it's possible to preserve as many assets as possible while still qualifying for the program to pay for long-term care expenses.
For instance, not all assets are taken into account when determining Medicaid eligibility. Exemptions are made for certain types of assets. Those who are married will discover that a spouse who isn't applying for Medicaid coverage is permitted to retain their own assets without affecting their partner's eligibility.
Ask a Medicaid Planning Attorney
The rules that govern Medicaid eligibility in New York are rigid and complex. This is why it is critical to consult with a qualified elder care attorney at the earliest opportunity. Ideally, this would be done well before long-term care is needed. Having a workable plan in place will give you peace of mind.
A Medicaid planning attorney like Kyle Steller can answer all of your questions and provide you with essential guidance to determine your eligibility for coverage. Scheduling an early consultation ensures that you'll have the most options for Medicaid planning available to you.
Kyle Steller provides professional Medicaid Planning in New York's Hudson Valley. If you or your loved ones are near the communities of Kingston, New Paltz, Marbletown, Red Hook, Poughkeepsie, High Falls, Newburgh, or any town in Ulster, Dutchess or Orange Counties - Kyle can help you protect your assets with a solid Medicaid plan.
If you have already applied for Medicaid or need long-term care, a consultation is still worthwhile. You may have more options than you realize when it comes to paying for nursing home care.
Medicaid Planning Frequently Asked Questions
While the combined assets of spouses are available for the care of ill or “institutionalized” spouses, regardless of whose name they are under, there are some assets that are exempt when there is still a spouse living at home.
Those would include:
- Homes with a value up to $840,000
- $75,000 to $120,000 in resources
- One automobile
- Prepaid funeral and burial costs for the applicant and spouse
- Household furniture, personal effects, or jewelry with sentimental value
- IRA’s, 401(k)’s and any other qualified plans paying out a monthly income
- Annuities paying out a monthly income that name the spouse as a primary beneficiary
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) assets, if they are held in trust more than five years
- Assets in trusts set up by someone other than the applicant
- Supplemental Needs Trusts (aka “Special Needs Trusts”) for the benefit of a disabled person under the age of 65
- Pooled trusts for a disabled person, subject to county DSS Approval.
While Medicaid is available for low-income persons to cover the cost of a nursing home, it is considered the “payer of last resort.” After a Medicaid recipient dies, “estate recovery” could lead to the government trying to recoup the cost of housing the Medicaid recipient.
Transferring assets or resources as gifts - like household goods, personal effects, certain prepaid funeral expenses, and income-producing property - can be done without penalty.
Another option are irrevocable trusts. These allow you to avoid giving away or spending assets to qualify for Medicaid. For example, if the family home is an asset held in the irrevocable trust and is sold while the Medicaid recipient is alive and in a nursing home, the income from that sale would not count as a resource related to Medicaid eligibility.
You may also look into a life estate plan. This would give the Medicaid recipient the right to live in the home until death, then it would be transferred to a chosen loved one.
It’s important to note that all these options are subject to the Medicaid five-year look-back period. Choosing the right option for you and your family will take time and likely require the help of an attorney.
One of the main areas of Elder Law planning, trusts can be powerful tools in organizing and protecting resources and assets. Though your primary home is an exempt asset from Medicaid eligibility, they could still attempt to use a lien against the home to recoup their costs for long-term care through your home’s equity.
Instead, if you transfer your home to an asset protection trust, the house legally belongs to the trust so your property is safe from a Medicaid lien. Remember, transfers like this would still be subject to the Medicaid five-year look-back period.
Utilizing a trust strategy to protect your assets and leave them to your loved ones is a complicated process. Using the services of an attorney can be beneficial as you navigate the different options.
Because a Medicaid applicant must have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets, many choose ways to spend down or transfer their assets in order to qualify. Some ways of doing that are transferring your assets into those that are exempt from Medicaid eligibility. You could also choose to spend your resources on things like repairs to your home, replacing an old automobile, updating things like household goods and furniture, buying medical equipment, paying for at-home care, paying off debt, or buying a new home. If one spouse will be staying at their primary home, any spend down efforts should be done after the spouse in need of care moves to their nursing home, otherwise it could affect how much the at-home spouse would have as a resource allowance.
While it may not be a legal requirement to use a lawyer when applying for medicaid, it can be a hugely beneficial tool. Elder Law Attorneys and Medicaid Attorneys know the complexities of Medicaid eligibility and how to best navigate the various steps of applying. They can also help you to create a strategy to organize your assets so that you are able to qualify for Medicaid without losing your previous resources. While it may be tempting to try and do it all yourself, an Elder Law Attorney or Medicaid Attorney has the professional experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process with less stress and a better outcome for you, your spouse, and your loved ones.