Community Medicaid Planning: Stay In Your Home. Keep Your Assets.

May 20, 2021 Austin F DuBois

It is not unusual for clients and prospective clients to contact our firm during difficult times in their lives, and their inquiries often some with a sense of urgency. For example, an adult child comes in after a precipitating event such as an aging parent about to be discharged from an extended hospital stay. The parent is in need of some level of care, but neither they nor the adult child know the extent of what coverage – for what kind of services – are even available to them.

Is Community Medicaid for You?

Contrary to popular belief, Medicaid is neither solely for “poor people” nor people requiring nursing home care. Medicaid is a benefit that is available for all people with below a certain amount of countable assets – money in the bank or cash value, life insurance or real estate, anything that contributes to what someone might refer to as their “net worth.” However, there are laws in place and techniques you can utilize to protect wealth and still receive Medicaid benefits.

This means that a family needn’t spend down a loved one’s assets in order for them to qualify for Medicaid, and that’s something an experienced elder law attorney will be sure to point out. After all, protecting our clients’ assets so they can live their lives on their terms as they age is always our primary goal.

People who don’t need full nursing home care, and who want to continue living in their own homes, can qualify for Medicaid coverage of in-home care services.

What You Don’t Know Can Cost You.
Even families who have a vague understanding of asset protection may not know the expectations and responsibilities on them when it comes to certain situations, and what they don’t know can cost them. Let’s say that grandma has $200K in the bank; she is in overall decent health, but needs a home aide to pay regular visits for certain things. Grandma would prefer those assets be shielded and kept as an inheritance for her family, but her loved ones often just start paying home health care costs out of pocket because they think either:

a) There’s too much money to qualify her for Medicaid, or

b) That it’s their expected responsibility to spend grandma’s hard-earned, saved money to pay for her in-home care expenses until such a time that her assets drop below a certain dollar amount and Medicaid kicks in.

You may not need to do either of those things.

There Are Ways to Protect Your Assets

Medicaid, when planned for correctly, can essentially take care of any long-term care needs that you or a loved one may require. Medicaid covers both in-home care and care that is provided in an assisted living facility.

Should you find yourself with a closing window of opportunity to protect your, or some else’s assets from an inevitable move into a nursing home, you still have options for holding onto your wealth. To learn more about this specifically, please refer to this blog on asset protection from January 2021.

Act Now! Look-Back Period Coming January 2022.

On January 1, 2022, a 2.5-year look-back period will be instated for all Community Medicaid applications. A look-back period is the amount of time prior to the date of a Medicaid application that the organization will examine for movement of assets. Currently, there remains no look-back period for Community Medicaid, and those who engage in strong asset and/or Medicaid planning now, will benefit greatly from preemptively protecting assets they wish to remain unaffected by a Medicaid application.

As an example of a look-back period, Medicaid applications for nursing home care currently have a 5-year look-back period. If you are cited for getting rid of assets within the 5-year period leading up to a Medicaid application, it affects the application negatively. To learn more about the upcoming New York State law affecting look-back periods for Community Medicaid, please refer to this blog from December 2020.

DuBois Law Group is here to help you, and we advise our clients to always be proactive with their long-term planning. If you or a loved one might need some level of home or assisted living care, act sooner rather than later. Consider transferring assets, possibly into a Medicaid trust, now, before the rules change on January 1, 2022.

Don’t pay privately for in-home care costs. Protect your assets, beginning with a call today.