Medicaid Attorney Serving South PortlandJackson Estate Planning assists the elderly and those with disabilities in qualifying for and applying for Medicaid Benefits. Our skilled South Portland Medicaid attorney provides planning for individuals who wish to secure and retain their assets, such as their house and retirement funds , to qualify for long-term care benefits at home or in a nursing facility – all without going bankrupt. Medicaid is a needs-based program with tight income and asset requirements, and the qualification thresholds fluctuate annually. We can meet with clients, explain the current requirements, and assist with the construction of a plan that would allow the client or a family member to apply for Medicaid coverage at home or in a nursing facility.
Why Do You Need a Medicaid Attorney in Maine?
Although some services and organizations promise to assist with complex Medicaid forms, working with our elder law-savvy Medicaid attorney is the best approach to verify that your application is exact, complete, and proper.
Numerous Medicaid statutes, rules, and standards can influence how an application is processed and if it is approved. We concentrate on elder law and Medicaid difficulties and may assist you in comprehending crucial issues involving:
- Qualification periods
- Infractions and exceptions
- Surplus income
- Utilization of income-only pooling trusts
At Jackson Estate Planning, we have many years of legal experience assisting clients with complex Medicaid challenges. You can rely on us to do the right thing for you. We can assist you with Medicaid, estate planning, and other aspects of long-term care planning.
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid planning is a process that can help protect your assets if you need to go on Medicaid. The goal of Medicaid planning is to preserve as much of your estate as possible, while still meeting the eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Several different strategies can be used for Medicaid planning, and each situation is unique. To get the most out of Medicaid planning, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who understands the complex rules and regulations governing Medicaid eligibility.
One of the most important things to understand about Medicaid planning is that it is not about trying to get around the rules. Medicaid has particular eligibility requirements, and if you do not meet those requirements, you will not be eligible for coverage. Medicaid planning is about finding ways to structure your assets so that you can still qualify for coverage, while also protecting as much of your estate as possible.
When is the Optimal Time to Plan for Medicaid?
Ideally, preparation should begin at least five years before the potential Medicaid applicant being ill and requires help. Even if the client is unable to wait five years from the date of planning to submit a Medicaid application, there are still a variety of asset protection strategies available.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Medicaid Estate Planning?
Many elderly individuals who require long-term care wish to protect their assets so they may leave them to their heirs. Despite the high cost of long-term care, it is feasible to preserve a legacy for your family via effective Medicaid Estate Planning to pay for treatment and shield assets from Medicaid.
Medicaid is a program that is “means-tested.” Therefore, candidates must have little assets and a modest income to qualify. Unfortunately, families that are unaware of Medicaid Estate Planning frequently spend their own money and deplete their savings until they are below the restrictions, or they try to hide money in ways that violate Medicaid’s standards, disqualifying them for Medicaid when they apply.
While incorrectly concealing assets from Medicaid might prevent a candidate from getting long-term care benefits, our knowledgeable South Portland Medicaid attorney can assist you in developing a Medicaid Plan that will help you qualify for Medicaid while legally protecting your assets. First, let’s review some Medicaid-related phrases that you should be aware of to better comprehend how to safeguard your finances.
Asset and Income Limits
A Medicaid applicant must fulfill stringent financial restrictions, including income and asset limitations, to qualify. The asset and income limitations relate to the maximum amount of assets and income that a person may own and still qualify for Medicaid. However, the minimum age restrictions differ by state.
Consequently, the amount of money a Medicaid applicant must safeguard varies on their location. In addition, the law exempts some assets and income from the asset and income caps. In the majority of circumstances, an applicant’s principal residence is not subject to asset limitations, and income from Medicaid-compliant annuities is not subject to income limits.
Asset Spend Down
Even though the law restricts a Medicaid applicant’s income and assets, having “extra” income or assets does not inevitably result in Medicaid disqualification. An applicant with “extra” income can nonetheless qualify for Medicaid by spending down excess funds.
To prevent Medicaid ineligibility, however, an applicant must adhere to state-specific spend-down restrictions. Therefore, a Medicaid applicant must be creative when applying spend-down measures to conserve Medicaid funds.
The look-back period is one of the Medicaid rules that must be understood by anybody attempting to safeguard money from Medicaid. As previously stated, there is a restriction on the applicant’s total assets and income. To fulfill the limit criteria, some applicants elect to donate or sell assets at a price below their fair market worth.
Medicaid establishes a time window, or look-back period, to consider any asset transactions or donations made previous to the application. Most states, including Michigan, have a look-back period of sixty months. This implies that any applicant who has donated or sold assets within sixty months of their Medicaid application will be ineligible for Medicaid for a period known as the penalty period.
These are only a handful of the restrictions that add to Medicaid’s complexity. However, there are proven Medicaid Planning tactics that our skilled Medicaid attorney may execute to safeguard assets from Medicaid.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT)?
Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts are established to safeguard assets from Medicaid. By turning countable assets into non-countable assets, MAPTs shield assets from Medicaid. This sort of trust permits individuals to qualify for Medicaid who would otherwise exceed the program’s asset requirements. MAPTs can also serve additional functions, such as shielding a Medicaid recipient’s house from the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) and safeguarding other assets for children or other beneficiaries.
When a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is correctly established, the transferred assets no longer legally belong to you. The fact that assets or money placed in trust no longer belong to the trust maker means they do not count toward the asset restrictions and Medicaid cannot claim them as a payment after the death of the Medicaid user.
Essentially, asset protection trusts allow applicants to legally shield assets from Medicaid. As a Medicaid applicant, you must understand that transfers to asset protection trusts are subject to “look-back” regulations. Consequently, you require the assistance of our competent South Portland Medicaid attorney to properly apply this method to safeguard money from Medicaid.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Income Trusts?
The law mandates Medicaid applicants to fulfill tight income requirements. Some persons with excessive income are ineligible for Medicaid. In some states, an applicant might escape ineligibility due to income limitations by creating Income Trusts known as Qualified Income Trusts (QITs).
A Qualified Income Trust, also known as a Miller Trust, is an irrevocable trust into which a beneficiary may transfer excess income. Some states let Medicaid applicants spend their income on eligibility restrictions, while others prevent them from doing so for Medicaid purposes.
In jurisdictions with such restrictions, individuals typically invest their extra funds in QITs to shield them from Medicaid while maintaining eligibility for benefits.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Medicaid-Compliant Annuities and Promissory Notes?
It is normal for older adults to seek emergency Medicaid services despite continuing to earn money or possessing assets above the restrictions. In many instances where a Medicaid applicant needs emergency benefits, it is customary for the applicant to have just sold or transferred assets.
In all instances, transferring or spending the extra money for Medicaid purposes will result in the imposition of look-back period penalties, which will render the applicant ineligible for Medicaid for a certain time frame. As a result, Medicaid-compliant annuities are typically employed in Medicaid Crisis planning circumstances to assist the applicant in paying for long-term care during the penalty period without depleting all of the assets they would like to leave as a legacy to their family.
Establishing a Medicaid-compliant annuity or promissory note is not a simple approach to safeguarding one’s assets, and an applicant should seek the assistance of our seasoned Medicaid attorney to implement it effectively.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Caregiver Agreement?
A caregiver agreement is a personal care arrangement in which a Medicaid applicant’s trusted family member or friend volunteers to care for them in exchange for payment. This sort of agreement is appropriate, particularly when a senior citizen requires caring services outside the limits of a nursing home and is not funded by Medicaid. As opposed to being placed in a facility, the applicant receives assistance at home from someone they know and trust.
By agreeing to pay for the caregiving services in advance, the applicant can save money from Medicaid. Therefore, the advance payments diminish the applicant’s countable or non-exempt assets. However, for Medicaid to recognize the caregiver agreement, it must have the following elements:
- The contract must specify the specific services and hours to be provided by the caregiver.
- They are required to keep a daily record of hours spent and bills for services performed.
- After the patient’s death, any unearned payments must be reimbursed to Medicaid, but only up to the amount Medicaid paid for the patient’s treatment.
- The lump sum payment must be calculated using market-based pricing for the services and a fair life expectancy.
How to Safeguard Your Money Against Medicaid Through Spousal Transfers?
Medicaid limits transfer to children, other family members, and trusts, but transfers between spouses do not incur a look-back period penalty. The spousal transfer plan distributes assets from the spouse who requires care to the healthy spouse, commonly known as the community spouse.
This Medicaid planning method decreases the applicant’s spouse’s countable assets. Effectively, the applicant’s spouse conceals assets from Medicaid while preserving eligibility.
Start Your Medicaid Application With the Help of Our Maine Medicaid Attorney
Our skilled Medicaid attorney can assist with care planning. The most typical way we may assist is by creating a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, which can safeguard assets like the family home, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, annuities, life insurance, business holdings, and other real estates for a spouse, children, or other beneficiaries. A properly designed trust gives tax benefits and eliminates the need for the family to liquidate assets or go through costly and time-consuming probate court proceedings.
In the past, hospital social workers, discharge planning nurses, and home care helpers were available to assist families experiencing a senior crisis. As a result of cost-cutting initiatives in the healthcare system, these roles have been almost gone. Families may now enlist the assistance of a Life Care Coordinator, who is intimately familiar with the health care system.
Engage our knowledgeable South Portland Medicaid attorney, who helps design estate planning and asset protection strategies to help you pay for long-term care.
Contact Jackson Estate Planning to book a free estate planning and asset protection strategy session immediately. With a law office in South Portland, we serve the whole state of Maine and are ready to assist you. Fill out our online contact form or call us.