As you probably know, Medicaid provides for long-term care in a facility such as a nursing home. Medicaid has strict limits in terms of who qualifies.
If you’ve reviewed the eligibility rules for Medicaid you’ve probably focused on the rules that spell out maximum income and maximum assets, as these are the main qualifying components.
So, maybe you did your homework and determined that you and your spouse would not qualify for Medicaid.
What you may not know is, with the right advanced planning, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid and still maintain a good portion of your assets and your income. However, planning has to be done carefully, with the help of an attorney trained in what we call Elder Law.
What should be considered also is that today, most people have a 50/50 chance of spending time in an extended care facility – so this reinforces the need for advanced planning.
While we can’t possibly explain all of the ins and outs of Medicaid planning here, we can give you a few points to consider:
- In most cases you won’t have to sell your home to qualify for Medicaid
- Qualification rules are different for a single person than for married couples
- There are ways that married couples can use a “spend down” provision to help qualify for Medicaid, but to try this yourself without legal guidance can be very risky
- It’s possible to transfer some assets to qualify for Medicaid in the future, but it has to be done according to strict rules
- A “spend down” option to provide for a special needs child or disabled child can help a couple qualify for Medicaid
- The federal gift tax exemptions cannot be used to transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid, but a gifting program under an Estate Plan maybe an option
- Medicaid rules change and you need to stay aware of the changes and their repercussions
Medicaid planning is something that can be done in advance but you will need the counsel of an attorney trained in Elder Law. Note that there are stiff penalties if you don’t follow the rules when trying to shift assets to qualify for Medicaid.