Woman signing medicaid document

How an Elder Law Attorney can Help with Medicaid Planning

A significant portion of individuals over the age of 65 will eventually require long-term nursing care — an extremely expensive proposition since such care on average costs nearly $100,000 annually for a semi-private room. Because very few families are able to pay for such care out of pocket, Medicaid (MassHealth) is the go-to option. 

Since Medicaid is needs-based, and only individuals with very low resources qualify, it is necessary to prepare for eligibility years in advance. Doing this skillfully takes the help of a strategic and knowledgeable elder law attorney like those at Surprenant & Beneski.  

We have extensive experience in Medicaid Planning and have enabled a great many residents of Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod to be eligible for MassHealth when they were in need. Contact us to discuss how you or your loved one can be ready for the government benefits you are entitled to if your health declines to the point that you need full-time nursing care. 

The Difference Between Medicaid and Medicare

Many people remain confused about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. All American citizens and some legal residents are eligible for Medicare when they reach the age of 65. While Medicare fully covers a 3-week period in a nursing home (after a 3-day inpatient hospital stay), and partially covers the next 80 days, it will not cover long-term care. Therefore, if you or a loved one requires ongoing nursing care, you must look to Medicaid (MassHealth).

Why Qualifying for Medicaid Is Daunting

As anyone who has applied for Medicaid without preplanning for the venture knows, the process is bureaucratic, frustrating, and challenging, even if you are not the patient. That’s why our experienced Medicaid planning attorneys do everything we can to help our clients take the steps necessary to become eligible well in advance. 

Because applicants for Medicaid must have very limited resources to be eligible for benefits, some people think that simply giving the bulk of their assets to their children when they need a nursing home will solve the problem. This is false since MassHealth has a 5-year “look back” period during which assets given away will still count as their property and disqualify them for benefits.

How Our Medicaid Planning Attorneys Can Help 

Our lawyers have an in-depth understanding of MassHealth regulations and know precisely which estate planning tools to use to financially structure your finances so that you can qualify for the Medicaid funds you need. The most important aspect of such planning is that it begins as far in advance as possible. Depending on your particular circumstances, our attorneys may use one or more of the following methods to prepare you or your loved one for Medicaid eligibility:

  • Irrevocable trusts, such as Qualified Income Trusts (QITs) and Pooled Income Trusts (if you qualify as disabled).
  • Life Estate Deeds that allow you to maintain ownership of your property during your lifetime and pass it directly to the desired beneficiary when you pass 
  • Annuities reduce countable assets for a spouse applying for Medicaid by having monthly payments made to the non-applying spouse
  • Spend downs are a way that Medicaid permits you to decrease your assets by spending them on medical care, personal care, cleaning, home repairs, upfront burial and funeral expenses, and a number of other itemized expenses. 
  • Transferring assets to family members at least 5 years before your application for Medicaid
  • Special needs trust for a family member with a physical or mental disability 

Each of these options has its own complexities which is why you need one of our sharp attorneys to recommend those that best suit your needs.

Contact Our Experienced Medicaid Planning Attorneys Today

Don’t put yourself, your loved one, or your assets at unnecessary risk. Speak to one of our astute elder law attorneys now to begin the process of Medicaid planning. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can move you towards a positive outcome.