When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important aspects of most plans should be the addition of a Medicaid planning component. Given the likelihood that you will need long-term care at some point, and the high cost of that care, developing a plan for covering those costs only makes sense. For one reason or another though, you may find yourself faced with the need to pay for long-term care (LTC) for yourself or a spouse but without the benefit of having included a Medicaid planning component in your estate plan ahead of time. The question then becomes “Is it too late to benefit from Nashua Medicaid planning?”
Like many people, you may have made it through your entire working years without ever turning to the Medicaid program for assistance with healthcare coverage. Consequently, you likely know very little about the program, including the eligibility guidelines. Moreover, it may never have occurred to you that you would need to qualify for Medicaid so you certainly never thought about needing to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan. Now, however, you are faced with the need to cover the cost of long-term care in New Hampshire. At a statewide average of about $10,000 a month, your LTC bill could wipe out a lifetime of savings in short order. Although you may now qualify for Medicare, the Medicare program won’t help with LTC expenses except under very narrow circumstances. Even then, Medicare only pays for LTC for up to 100 days. If you kept your private or employer-sponsored healthcare coverage the odds are very good that your coverage also excludes LTC costs. For over half of all seniors in your position, Medicaid is the solution. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be problematic if you did not plan ahead.
Medicaid is a federally funded and state-administered healthcare program for low-income individuals and families as well as the disabled and aged. Because the program is intended to assist low-income applicants, an income and asset threshold is used to determine eligibility. The asset limit is often as low as $2,000. If the value of your non-exempt assets exceeds that limit your application will be denied. Transferring valuable assets out of your estate when you realize you need to qualify for Medicaid is not an option because of the Medicaid five-year “look-back” rule. In essence, the rule allows Medicaid to review your finances for the previous five years. Any asset transfers made for less than fair market value could trigger a corresponding waiting period by Medicaid. If that is precisely where you find yourself right now, a Nashua Medicaid planning attorney may be able to help.
Last Minute Medicaid Planning
While it is always best to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan as early on in your life as possible to ensure your eligibility for Medicaid in the future, should you need it, you may still be able to take advantage of some Medicaid planning tools and strategies if you suddenly need to qualify for Medicaid and did not plan ahead. A Medicaid planning attorney can review your situation and suggest options. One common last-minute Medicaid planning strategy involves converting a non-exempt asset to an exempt asset. Medicaid exempts some assets, when determining your eligibility. The list of exempt assets will vary by state; however, most states exempt a primary residence. If you have a significant amount of cash or a valuable investment account and you still owe on a mortgage, paying down the mortgage can convert that cash/investment account from a non-exempt asset to an exempt asset.
The Medicaid eligibility rules, particularly the transfer rules, are complex and ever-changing. If you find yourself in need of qualifying for Medicaid and you did not plan for that possibility in your estate plan, consult with a Nashua Medicaid planning attorney to find out what options you may have.
Contact a Nashua Medicaid Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about last-minute Medicaid planning, contact the experienced Medicaid planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.