Medicaid is a public benefit that provides funds for nursing home care. To qualify for Medicaid, one must qualify in the areas of level of care required, amount of assets owned and amount of income received. One can legally rearrange assets and income to enable qualification before spending everything.
When there is time to plan, we encourage clients to find other means of paying for long-term care, particularly long-term care insurance, which offers much more choice and peace of mind than Medicaid offers. When long-term care is in the immediate future, and there is no long-term care insurance to pay for the care, our attorneys can assist in determining whether the client qualifies for Medicaid, and if the client does not qualify, our attorneys can help the client to qualify.
We see numerous problems created by non-lawyers, including hospitals, nursing homes, financial planners and insurance salespeople who complete Medicaid applications. Filing a false or incomplete Medicaid application is a crime, and should always be avoided.
We also are seeing more and more non-lawyer salespeople pushing “Medicaid Annuities,” which are misused and often unhelpful. Our attorneys do sometimes use a certain type of annuity in Medicaid planning, when it makes sense after looking at the particular circumstances of the case. A so-called Medicaid Annuity pays out in regular monthly payments and is designed to pay out completely before the end of the person’s life expectancy according to the Medicaid life-expectancy tables. But blindly purchasing a so-called “Medicaid Annuity” in advance, when Medicaid is simply a possibility in the future, is generally a mistake. Eventually, the person who purchases such an annuity may have excess assets because of the payments received. As a result, they may still need Medicaid planning. A “Medicaid Annuity” does not guarantee qualification for Medicaid and is simply one of many legal techniques.
Medicaid planning is the practice of law. Avoid accepting legal assistance from anybody other than an attorney who is well-versed in this unique area of law.