Elder law is an interdisciplinary field of law, in which the attorney considers issues affecting aging clients when advising about other areas of law. Elder law attorneys consider the effects of age and possible need for nursing home care in creating wills, trusts, powers of attorney and health care designation documents. Elder law attorneys also consider the ramifications of transferring assets, when asked to prepare deeds and other transfer documents.
One of the most common uses of elder law attorneys is to assist in obtaining Medicaid to defray the cost of long-term nursing-home care. If medical and financial eligibility standards are met, Medicaid assistance may be available. Although Medicaid is a federal program, each state has different rules, and Florida is among the most unique, especially in regard to the treatment of homestead property.
Elder law attorneys assist in determining whether the person receiving care (the “applicant”)qualifies for Medicaid in regard to level of care, income and assets. One does not need to wait until all the money is gone. There are legal techniques available to preserve assets and qualify for Medicaid assistance. One should not attempt to move assets for the purpose of qualifying without professional advice.
Medicaid involves nursing home level of care, although there are similar, related programs available for home health care and certain other types of facilities. If one receives too much income, there is a procedure for qualifying in spite of it. Determining countable assets and what can be done with them is a very complicated procedure. Income and assets are treated differently if there is a spouse at home than when the applicant is unmarried or widowed.
Transferring assets without advice can cause serious, unexpected consequences. One should be careful of generalities or how they heard that somebody else qualified. Every situation is different.
Elder law attorneys can help to address the overall picture involved in dealing with the legal aspects of aging and provide peace of mind to clients and their families.