People are living longer than before, and longer life spans can bring long-term medical issues. While “aging in place” is the goal of most seniors, the reality is that about 60% of people over 65 may face medical conditions that don't allow them to stay home. Many will require more medical care than a relative or home health care provider can give.
If you're at the point where you or a family member has to make the difficult decision regarding a nursing home, there is a lot to consider. The average cost of a nursing home in Wisconsin is approaching $9,000 per month. Even if you have the means to pay for it, it won't be long before your resources may be depleted.
Why Do You Need to Plan For Medicaid?
If you have assets, property and other things you were planning to leave to your spouse and family members, nursing home care may keep that from happening. Planning ahead with an estate plan that includes transfers and dispositions of everything before you have to apply for Medicaid will help preserve much of it for your beneficiaries.
If you apply for Medicaid with a considerable amount of funds, property and other assets, you'll be unable to qualify. Examining your current worth and ways to transfer assets ahead of time will make sure you're prepared when you apply.
What Does Medicaid Planning Involve?
If you are unmarried, one of the first things you'll need to do is become “impoverished,” with no more than $2,000 in countable assets. Medicaid also has limited your monthly income. This income limit is part of Medicaid's complex requirements to apply for the program, causing many people to not qualify. If you don't qualify, you'll have no choice but to pay out-of-pocket.
Planning for Medicaid involves multiple strategies, including various forms of trusts, gifting, annuities, and restructuring assets. “Spending down” assets should be done carefully, and preferably with your attorney's advice. Moving money and “gifting” should also be under your attorney's auspices to avoid running afoul to Medicaid rules.
Medicaid has a five-year “lookback period,” in which your entire financial life will be reviewed for anything that could be used to pay for your care. Assets sold or transferred within the previous five-year period could cause a Medicaid penalty period, and your qualification will be delayed. Despite the five year lookback period, elder law attorneys often time will employ a combination of asset preservation strategies to transfer or convert assets in a manner that can preserve the assets despite applicable Medicaid penalty periods.
How Can A Lawyer Help?
It's easy to make a mistake with your estate plan that you can't recover from. A lawyer who understands estate planning and elder law will be able to advise you in your specific situation and prevent mistakes.
An estate planning lawyer can help you with a will, trusts, gifts, and asset transfers that could eventually allow you to apply for and receive Medicaid to get the long-term care you need. Your wealth, property and assets will be preserved and your family's interest protected.
Heritage Law Take Care of Medicaid Planning
The earlier you start planning for you long term care needs and positioning your life saving to qualify for Medicaid, the easier the process will be and the more money you will ultimately be able to preserve. For any questions on elder law and Medicaid planning, speak with a reputable attorney with Heritage Law Office of Wisconsin. We are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge to properly handle elder laws and prepare for long-term care. Contact our office at (414) 253-8500 for a free case evaluation today!