Many people come to our office because they want to know how best to protect their estate in the event they or their spouse needs long-term nursing home care. Many times they have seen what the cost of long term nursing care can do in depleting assets and leaving a spouse with little to live on. They want to know what options are available to them to try and protect their hard-earned assets from complete exhaustion. Fortunately, there are ways to protect those assets – ways that have been set out in both state and federal regulations as accepted methods of estate planning to assist in qualification for Medicaid assistance. Let’s look at an example.
Susan and Steven have just recently turned 73 and 75, respectively. They have both been retired for a little over 10 years and are in good health. They have about $250,000.00 in cash in CDs, $50,000.00 in a savings account, they own their home in Burlington and a beach condo at Wrightsville Beach, and they have about $100,000.00 in an IRA. Their incomes of $2000 and $2500, respectively, give them plenty to live on each month, so they hardly touch their savings and never touch the CDs. Steven also takes his required distribution from the IRA. They never took out any long term care insurance. Eight years ago, Steven had to assist his mother in getting qualified for Medicaid assistance, and he saw how quickly the little money she had was consumed and the fact that her estate was wiped out by the Medicaid Recovery Claim. Susan and Steven both want to avoid that same outcome if possible.
Susan and Steven have several planning options available to them to try and protect their assets for each other and then for their children, planning that depends on what Susan and Steven are seeking to achieve. Do they just want to leave the beach house for the kids, or do they want to try and leave more? Are they concerned with retaining control over some or all of their assets for as long as they are capable, or is that not a particular concern or desire. At our office, we discuss all of these issues with clients, and try to find the best course of action depending on the wants and desires of the client.
However, planning for Medicaid qualification is extremely sensitive and must be done exactly as prescribed by law in order to be effective. Many clients come to our office and have heard three different answers regarding the same issue. We pride ourselves on being able to provide understandable answers to intricate questions, and being able to provide correct solutions for the problems and issues facing each client. For a better understanding of Medicaid and its rules and regulations, click here.
Just because you don’t have the same types or amounts of assets as Susan and Steven doesn’t mean you aren’t the type of person who could benefit from Medicaid planning. Many people with much smaller estates can still take advantage of the way the rules are structured to protect just their home, if nothing else. Additionally, good Medicaid planning often doubles as basic estate planning, so you needn’t do two different types of planning. We can structure things so that your assets are protected, and then distributed in accordance with your wishes upon your death. So don’t let the size of your estate (large or small) deter you from discussing Medicaid planning with us. We are here to help everyone.