Spokane Medicaid Planning Lawyers
There are two public health systems created by the federal government to help qualifying individuals afford medical care. Medicare and Medicaid are distinctly different, yet they combine to create a dilemma when it comes to planning for your future. You may be entitled to Medicare based upon age or disability, but it does not cover long-term care. Though Medicaid does pay for assisted living, it is a needs-based program that disqualifies many people who earn or own too much. The dilemma is that you would have to spend down your assets just to be eligible for Medicaid benefits.
However, there are options for Medicaid planning that help you retain the value of your estate during your lifetime and protect your legacy at death. At Moulton Law Offices, we can assist in developing a strategy that maximizes your eligibility for Medicaid without becoming destitute. Please contact our firm to set up a consultation with a Spokane Medicaid planning attorney who can describe options. An overview is also useful.
Background on Medicaid Planning: Experts estimate that 70 percent of adults aged 65 years or older will need some form of assisted living environment during their lifetimes. It is harsh to realize that you worked hard to build your wealth for today and beyond, just to find that these efforts harm your interests if you require long-term care. Unless you take timely action, you will not qualify for Medicaid and will be paying out of pocket.
Medicaid planning involves strategies to reduce what Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) counts when determining eligibility. The key is doing it legally, so do not be tempted to gift assets or sell items for far less than fair market value. There is a look-back period of 60 months, and CMS will review all transactions during this time. Any violation of the rules could lead to a transfer penalty.
Options for Medicaid Planning: There are multiple ways to protect your assets from CMS calculations, and Moulton Law Offices will handle strategy. Our Washington Medicaid planning lawyers can explain the pros and cons for your unique circumstances, particularly on two commonly used options:
1. Personal Service Contracts: You might opt to create an agreement with a caregiver who can provide basic, non-medical services and support. In it, you establish a price that you pay for the services, which shrinks your net worth in CMS’ view.
2. Medicaid Asset Protection Trust: A MAPT is an irrevocable living trust in which you hand over all ownership and control over assets to have them not counted for Medicaid. A trustee manages all property you transfer into the trust, though you may still retain some income rights.
Trust a Spokane Medicaid Planning Attorney to Advise You on Options
Rules on Medicaid eligibility are strict, but there are strategies to maximize your benefits and protect assets for your spouse and family. For additional details, please contact Moulton Law Offices to schedule a case assessment with a Washington Medicaid planning lawyer. After we review your situation, we can discuss how to proceed.
Am I eligible for Medicaid?
There are two factors to determining eligibility for Medicaid. First, as the applicant you must require assistance with at least two activities of daily living (bathing, feeding, getting dressed, etc.) and be in a facility that accepts Medicaid.
You also need to be financially eligible. Medicaid allows you to have: one home of any value, one vehicle of any value, a prepaid funeral plan, a very small life insurance policy, and $2,000. If you are married, your spouse is allowed to have additional assets totaling between $68,000 and $148,000.
Another aspect of being eligible for Medicaid is your cost of care needs to exceed your monthly income. If you are married, your spouse’s income is not included.
Does Medicaid cover in-home care, or do I need to move to a facility?
While Medicaid is generally intended to help people afford long-term care in an alternative living facility, there are options for people who choose to remain in the home. The program you would apply for is called Community Options Program Entry System (COPES). COPES aims to allow individuals to receive care in a home or community setting, promoting independence and preventing institutionalization. COPES has similar qualifications as traditional Medicaid. You should consult with an attorney to determine whether COPES would be a good option for you.
Will Medicaid take my house?
No, Medicaid will not take possession of your house; however, they will attach a Medicaid lien to your home for the cost of what the state spends on your care. When the property is then sold, the state will collect that lien from the proceeds. It is possible to protect your property from a Medicaid lien. You may wish to deed the home to your spouse as their separate property or establish an Irrevocable Trust to hold the property (there are other less common exemptions that may apply). Gifting your home without guidance from an attorney is strongly discouraged. Depending on your specific situation, an attorney will advise on the best way to protect your home.
How do I apply for Medicaid?
An application for Medicaid benefits may be filled out and submitted to any Medicaid office. It is often easier to file the application online. This first step is the easiest step. Once Medicaid receives your application, they will ask you for a number of supporting documents to verify the information you provided. This can include income verification, bank records going as far back as five years, and much more. Typically an application for Medicaid in Washington can take up to 3 months to be processed before benefits will begin. Having a complete understanding of all Medicaid will ask you to provide can greatly impact the time it takes to get approved
What is considered a “Gift” and what is the Five-Year lookback?
A gift is any transfer of assets for less than fair market value (FMV). For example, if you have a car worth $15,000, and you give that car to your son, that is a gift. Giving away personal property is not considered a gift. If you sell an asset for less than FMV, the gifted amount will be the difference between the sale price and FMV. DSHS does not penalize gifts that total less than $391 in any one month.
When DSHS determines a gift was made, a penalty period will be assessed based on the value of the gift(s). This penalty period can be avoided if the gift occurred more than 60 months prior to applying for Medicaid. This is what is referred to as the Five-Year Clock or the Five-Year Look Back Period.
What is a Medicaid Spenddown?
There are several strategies for getting assets below the limit, and a common strategy is to quite literally spend money. This is referred to as a “spenddown.” Those purchases can include:
- Purchase prepaid, irrevocable funeral plans;
- Pay down an existing mortgage on your primary residence;
- Upgrade appliances and furniture around the house;
- Remodels and upgrades on your primary residence (so long as the work is “substantially completed” by the time the application is submitted);
- Purchase needed personal items – clothes, electronics, medical devices, etc.
Why should I talk to an attorney before I apply?
Seeking advice from an attorney before applying for Medicaid is crucial for several reasons. First, the Medicaid application process is complex and often involves intricate legal considerations. Applying before being eligible can delay an approval by months. Secondly, consulting with an attorney before applying for Medicaid can help individuals proactively address potential challenges and avoid costly mistakes. At Moulton Law Offices, we have a team that specializes in Medicaid and can provide valuable guidance on becoming eligible, preserving assets, and navigating the application process. We can help you navigate the intricate web of regulations, ensuring your application is complete, accurate, and stands the best chance of approval.
At Moulton Law Offices, we will assess your unique circumstances, identifying any potential pitfalls or areas of concern that might arise during the application process. By addressing these issues early on, you can enhance your chances of a successful application and minimize the risk of delays or denials
Moulton Law Offices’ dedicated Medicaid Paralegal Olivia DeVleming has been an invaluable asset to our team with her wealth of knowledge and experience. Her passion for helping families navigate the complexities of Medicaid and long-term care costs has made significant and impactful results for families we serve.
Throughout her time here, Olivia has successfully assisted numerous families in securing financial relief by optimizing Medicaid benefits. Her expertise in understanding the intricate details of Medicaid regulations enables her to devise strategic solutions tailored to each family’s unique situation.
Olivia is not just a professional; she is a compassionate advocate for families facing the challenges of long-term care complexities and expenses. By staying ahead of all the latest developments in Medicaid’s ever-changing policies, Olivia ensures that our clients receive
the most up-to-date and effective guidance.
You can trust Olivia will ensure that your hard-earned assets won’t be lost to long-term care costs. Give our office a call or email Olivia to better learn how she can help you and your family.