Figuring out how to pay for long-term care is the number one question the Palmer & Slay attorneys are asked by estate planning clients in the Brandon, Mississippi area. Many of us have seen a loved one miss out on the care he or she needs because it is unaffordable. All of us have heard horror stories of families that lost their home, and had to spend all the money they had to afford the care they needed.
Worrying about the cost of long-term care is about as useful as sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but you don’t get anywhere. Working with Palmer & Slay’s experienced estate planning attorneys to take control of your finances and figure out if you will be able to rely on Medicaid to meet some of your long-term care needs is a much better use of your time.
1. What Is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a federal program administered by each state. It was created to help meet the needs of people who are unable to afford the healthcare they require. Although it is supposed to be “the payer of last resort” when it comes to long-term care, Medicaid pays for about half of the country’s total nursing home costs.
2. How Do You Qualify For Medicaid?
Medicaid is a need-based program. In Mississippi, most people must have countable resources of no more than $4,000 in order to qualify for full benefits. Some assets, like personal property and a car, are exempt from this limit.
3. Spending Down Your Assets May Not Be The Best Idea
Spending money, transferring assets, and doing whatever you can to get down to the $4,000 limit may sound simple. The reality is there are rules in place to prevent people from gaming the Medicaid system by going on a spending spree or handing their assets over to their children.
The government wants you to pay for the portion of your care it believes you are able to afford. If you “waste” money by quickly spending it on non-healthcare-related expenses, or gift or transfer it to others, you could be denied Medicaid benefits for a period of time. The current lookback period for such gifting, transfers, and certain spending is five years.
The best way to secure your benefits while also protecting your loved ones and providing for them is to work with estate planners like those at Palmer & Slay. Our experienced team can help you get your finances in order so you can access the Medicaid benefits you need.
4. Medicaid Doesn’t Cover Everything
Aside from the waiting period imposed by the government on people who gift, spend, or transfer their assets away, there is another side to rapidly spending down. Medicaid does not cover the cost of everything you will need to care for yourself. It may pay for the basics, but it will not pay for dentistry, eye exams, clothing, personal care items like soap, entertainment and social expenses, or a phone plan.
Palmer & Slay can help you manage your assets so you can tap into Medicaid benefits, but still have enough money to cover extra expenses.
5. Medicaid Planning Can Help You Get The Care You Need While Protecting The Ones You Love
Every state, including Mississippi, has a Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) that was created to recover costs the government has spent on the care of Medicaid recipients from their estate once they have died. Some families are required to sell off family homes and other assets owned by their loved one in order to meet the demands of MERP. Palmer & Slay has helped several families in the Brandon, MS area avoid this outcome.
6. Medicaid Planning Costs Less Than One Month In A Nursing Home
While there is some cost to crafting and implementing a plan that will help you secure Medicaid benefits, it is a small cost compared to the monthly nursing home cost. Paying a little bit now so you can save more in the long run is well worth it.
Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones.
If you have questions about securing Medicaid benefits for yourself or a loved one, Palmer & Slay’s experienced team of Medicaid planning attorneys is here for you. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting.