Because almost 70 percent of the population will require long-term nursing care at some point, understanding Medicaid’s role in long-term care is essential. Long-term nursing care costs much more than the average patient can afford, so most people look for ways to maintain eligibility for these government benefits without giving up their accumulated assets, most especially their homes. Dealing with the complicated bureaucracy of Medicaid requires in-depth knowledge and legal skills, so having the assistance of a Medicaid planning attorney is invaluable.
In Massachusetts, MassHealth is the state’s version of Medicaid, designed to provide medical coverage for people with low incomes. MassHealth is means-tested, meaning that eligibility is determined based on each individual’s income and assets. If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts, the lawyers of Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. have a long, proud history of assisting clients in obtaining access to MassHealth coverage while protecting their homes and other assets. Contact us now to discuss your options.
The Importance of Protecting Your Home
Your home is probably your most valuable asset so you want to protect it now and in the future, both as the place you live and feel most comfortable and as the property you look forward to passing on to your heirs.
If you require MassHealth benefits in the future and you haven’t made provisions to protect your home, the government can claim a portion or the full value of your home as part of Medicaid Estate Recovery. If this happens, your home could be sold to repay your MassHealth expenses after you pass away, leaving your children without the family home you intended for them to inherit.
For this reason, it is critical that you contact our Medicaid planning attorneys now to consider the following ways in which we can help you protect your home from being considered a countable asset under MassHealth rules:
An irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust ( MAPT) is an effective tool for protecting your home. While a revocable living trust can be amended or rescinded at any time, an irrevocable trust permanently transfers ownership of your assets to the trust. By relinquishing control over the assets in the trust, you remove them from your estate, making them no longer countable when it comes to assessing your Medicaid eligibility.
Nonetheless, you can still live in your home and even specify terms under which it can be sold or rented. It’s important to note, however, that the irrevocable trust must be established at least five years before applying for Medicaid to avoid the program’s look-back period.
Life Estate Deeds
Establishing a life estate deed is another way to protect your home from being counted as a seizable asset by Medicaid. When our attorneys create a life estate deed for you, you retain the right to live in your home for the remainder of your life but the “remainder interest” will automatically pass to your children when you die. Not only will your home not be available to Medicaid Estate Recovery, but it will not have to go through probate.
A life estate deed, like an irrevocable trust, must also be set up at least five years before applying for Medicaid to avoid penalties, but it provides a great advantage. When you create a life estate deed, your heirs are now on the title of your property and therefore assume ownership of your home when you pass. Because your children owe no debt to Medicaid, Medicaid Estate Recovery will not be able to attach the home to pay your bills.
Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
For married couples, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship ensures that your spouse will retain ownership of your home after your death so Medicaid Estate Recovery will not be able to claim it. It must be remembered, however, that if your surviving joint tenant also requires long-term nursing care at some point, unless other steps have been taken, the home may be counted as part of their estate.
Contact Our Experienced Medicaid Planning Attorneys Today
Medicaid planning is a vital part of your estate plan and the time to address the issue is now. No one knows what the future holds, so beyond the fact that you and/or your spouse may need MassHealth funds when you are elderly, there is also the possibility that one of you may need long-term nursing care due to a catastrophic event earlier in life. Contact our skilled and compassionate lawyers now to secure your healthcare resources and protect the sanctity of your home.