Medicaid might be the only way or the best way for you to pay for nursing home care, but securing these benefits requires careful planning. Given that 20% of the Massachusetts population is low-income, many are eligible for Medicaid benefits throughout their lives. However, most people living in a nursing home are older and suffering from long-term care events. They might have accumulated several assets over their lives that they want to pass on to their loved ones, an excellent reason to hire estate planning lawyers.
Medicaid planning is vital for multiple reasons, including:
- The sooner you plan, the more options you have to protect your assets and your family members
- The best time to plan is before there’s a crisis when you’re already under stress
- You can take advantage of various planning strategies, such as the use of trusts, to legally qualify for Medicaid in the future if you should need it
- Medicaid is only available to those who qualify financially, which means you should be familiar with how the state defines this well in advance of a nursing home stay
- You might not be able to afford or have an interest in long term care insurance, which, aside from paying out of pocket, is the only other viable option to pay for nursing home expenses
The average cost of a nursing home per day is $395.00 across all of Massachusetts, with more expensive options popping up in places like Boston. Is that an expense you’re prepared to pay from your own savings? If so, how would it affect your retirement, your spouse, and the heirs to whom you intended to leave assets?
All are crucial factors to consider as you plan to meet with estate planning lawyers to discuss your options.
Not Everyone Qualifies for Medicaid
Each state administers Medicaid in its own way. Massachusetts administers Medicaid via Mass Health. Their rules determine when someone is eligible, something you might need to consider with the help of a lawyer well in advance of an actual qualifying event. Both income limits and asset limits apply, and if you exceed these, you are not eligible to use Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care.
In 2021 in Massachusetts, the income limit is $1,073/month for a single person (and for one spouse applying for benefits) and $1452/month when both spouses are applying for benefits. Likewise, the asset limit for a single person is $2,000 for one person, $2,000 and $130,380 for the non-applicant, and $3,000 if both spouses are applying.
Understanding Transfer Rules is Key
Simply transferring or gifting all your assets in the months before going into a nursing home is not an option to become quickly eligible for benefits. Instead, you can use legal methods outlined by estate planning lawyers to prepare for this possibility.
Penalty periods might apply if you transferred assets too close to entering the nursing home and applying for Medicaid, which means you’d need to “spend down” your personal assets until the penalty period is over.
You Want to Chart Your Own Course
Hiring a lawyer is the only way to know all of your options. Most people don’t expect to suffer from a long-term care event but can be caught off guard by the expense if and when this occurs. Options like spousal asset transfers or funeral trusts are just a few ways a person might qualify for Medicaid outside of simply meeting the asset and income limits outright.
Since most people will need long-term care at some point in their lives, it pays to be proactive and to know what to expect when you’re looking at a possible stay in a nursing home. It helps to protect your assets while not harming the plans you have for your estate and its beneficiaries.
Medicare does not cover most nursing home expenses, which is another thing that your estate planning lawyers might tell you when you first sit down to plan. Assuming that Medicare will pick up the tab is a big mistake and one that can leave you with a significant bill. Medicare will only cover up to 100 days of a stay inside a nursing home before those benefits stop, and that might not be enough time for you to recover from the original incident fully.
For people with long-term advanced needs, like dementia, a 100-day stay is not enough to help them get back on their feet. They instead need the ongoing support provided by nursing home care. If you have further questions about qualifying for Medicaid, now is the right time to speak with estate planning lawyers about your options.
The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen: Planning for Families, Planning for Life
If you’re ready to learn more about Medicaid planning, contact the Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen, estate planning lawyers in Andover Massachusetts today. We have your best interests at heart and will help you ensure that your family is taken care of. Estate planning attorney Kimberly Butler Rainen’s knowledge base is second to none. She has worked with many clients to secure their future and their family’s well-being through Medicaid planning, and she looks forward to serving you. Take the first step by scheduling a brief “get to know you” call at 978-409-1928 or complete our online form.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.