West Chester Medicaid Planning Lawyer
“How can I afford nursing home care for my spouse, while maintaining my standard of living?”
This is a question we frequently hear from our elder law and estate planning clients. They worry that they have to spend down all of their assets on nursing home care before they can become eligible to receive federal and state Medicaid benefits. This is not necessarily the case, however.
At the Law Office Therese L. Money, LLC in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we help clients in Chester County and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania to make the best use of their assets while enabling them to receive the greatest amounts of Medicaid benefits available to them.
Chester County Long Term Care Planning Attorney Serving West Chester And Southeastern Pennsylvania
A common strategy to avoid this fate has been to gift assets to (or to contribute to a trust for the benefit of) family members, charities, and other beneficiaries as part of a structured Medicaid preparedness plan. The result is still the same — you end up spending down your estate — but instead of paying your life’s savings to the nursing home, you can control where those funds will be dedicated.
Recent changes to Medicaid laws have made it even more difficult for individuals and spouses to shelter assets while receiving Medicaid benefits. Until recently, the Medicaid “look back” period — meaning the time before which a person could give away assets without having those gifts counted against their Medicaid benefits — was three years. This ineligibility period has since been increased to five years.
We understand our clients’ desire to preserve their estates for future generations rather than having the wealth they have worked so hard to build used for their long-term care. We help our clients develop comprehensive asset protection strategies that provide a sound plan which includes the steps that can be taken to ensure that your property remains available to your beneficiaries without burdening them with excessive tax obligations.
This change does not make it impossible for potential donors to give away assets. However, it does mean that more planning is required. For example, if you wish to contribute $10,000 to your future son-in-law’s college fund, you must do it at least five years before the year in which you intend to apply for Medicaid, or else that $10,000 will be counted as an available resource for Medicaid eligibility.
What About A Special Needs Trust?
Another asset protection strategy in these circumstances is to create a special needs trust for a disabled spouse or child. Such trusts can be used for medical care not covered by Medicaid or other government programs, as well as certain so called “nonessential purchases” including vacations, hobby supplies, entertainment, transportation, educational expenses, radios, televisions, clothes, and purchase of related insurance.
Medicaid Planning Is Complex, But Our Lawyer Can Help!
Medicaid requirements are complex and ever-changing; however, with the assistance of Therese L. "Terry" Money, Esq., our knowledgeable West Chester Medicaid planning attorney, you can make the most of your later years while remaining eligible for Medicaid benefits.