The Florida Bar published an article, "Unregulated Medicaid advisers giving bad advice, Florida Bartold," describing the ways in which individuals engaging in the unauthorized practice of law take advantage of people seeking Medicaid planning. As a result, elder law attorneys have urged the Florida Bar to create clear regulations to describe when non-attorney Medicaid planners are crossing over into the practice of law.
An 84-year-old woman, worried about how to provide for her husband's nursing care, visited a financial advisor for help in qualifying for Medicaid. As a result of this meeting, the woman spent$25,000 on a life insurance policy as the financial advisor told her it would aid her in meeting Medicaid qualification. The woman stated, "I have legal documents that were not explained to me and now do not help me in my present situation."
We see numerous problems created by non-lawyers, including hospitals, nursing homes, financial planners and insurance sales people 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. 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 “MedicaidAnnuity” 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.