Blue Bell Medicaid Planning Lawyer Helping Clients Receive Benefits Without Losing Their Assets
Serving Philadelphia, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery, Delaware And Bucks Counties
Finding out a parent, spouse, or relative will require long-term care at a nursing home or similar type of facility can be stressful, especially when financial resources are limited. Nursing homes can be notoriously expensive, costing several hundred dollars per week and potentially draining the assets you or your loved one worked so hard to build. A feasible alternative for many is to resort to Medicaid benefits to cover the costs of long-term care, but it is important to understand how Medicaid works and how your loved one’s assets may still be on the line without proper plans to protect them.
What Is Medicaid?
In simple terms, Medicaid is a needs-based program in which the government provides health care for eligible individuals who cannot afford to pay for medical treatment or the costs of long-term care at a nursing home. Each state administers its own Medicaid program, providing essential services for low-income families, individuals with disabilities as well as the elderly.
While low-income families and disabled individuals make up the majority of the group receiving Medicaid benefits, the elderly are estimated to account for almost two-thirds of Medicaid spending, a figure that reflects just how costly nursing homes and long-term care can be. Another important aspect of Medicaid is that, unlike other needs-based programs or private health insurance, the program is funded by taxpayer money. Because Medicaid is not self-funding, recipients of Medicaid benefits may be required to repay the government for the benefits they receive. In other words, it could be said that Medicaid works very similarly to a loan.
How Does Medicaid Estate Recovery Work?
As explained above, Medicaid funds come from taxpayers, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may require repayment of benefits received. The Commonwealth refers to Medicaid as simply Medical Assistance (MA), and the Medical Assistance Estate Recovery Program enables the Department of Human Services to recover the costs of the benefits an individual has received from the time they turned 55 years of age until the time they passed away.
With a few exceptions, any property or asset that is considered part of the decedent’s estate may be subject to estate recovery. This means that if you or a loved one received Medicaid benefits, the Commonwealth might use any asset in your estate (or your loved one’s estate) as a repayment for the costs of care. This may come as a surprise for many people who, in a moment of distress, agreed to have their loved one sign up for Medicaid without knowing that the benefits received would need to be repaid at some point after their loved one dies. Fortunately, there are a few ways to protect your assets from Medicaid recovery, and a Medicaid planning attorney may provide many helpful options.
What Can I Do to Preserve My Assets?
The first thing you should do to preserve your assets without hurting your eligibility for Medicaid is to seek the help of a Medicaid planning professional as soon as possible. Many people rush to conclusions and begin selling or giving away their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid, but that is not always recommended or effective and may actually hurt your ability to receive Medicaid benefits.
By working with a Medicaid planning attorney, you can get a clear understanding of how to better structure your financial resources. There are also ways to help you or your loved one be accepted into Medicaid without necessarily spending or selling the countable assets that surpass the required asset eligibility rules, such as setting up an irrevocable trust and keeping it in place for 5 years before you apply for Medicaid. Each situation may be different, but it is important to understand that simply because you or your loved one needs Medicaid, it does not mean you will lose all the assets in your estate after you pass away. The right plans can make all the difference in helping you preserve your legacy while securing your access to the care you need.
How Can a Medicaid Planning Attorney Help?
If you or someone in your family needs to apply for Medicaid, an attorney can be an essential advocate to help you navigate the application process and be accepted. In addition, an attorney can help you understand the ever-changing Medicaid rules and requirements, including key details about the estate recovery program and the “look-back” period.
If you or a spouse have been dealing with health problems and believe you may need long-term care as you age or your condition worsens, it is best to seek a Medicaid planning lawyer as soon as possible because early planning only works in your favor–not only it gives your attorney a chance to help you protect your assets, but also take the right steps to qualify for Medicaid at the right time.
At the Pile Law Firm, PLLC, Attorney E. Nego Pile has extensive knowledge of the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance (MA) program and can help families navigate the sometimes complicated process of applying for benefits. Attorney E. Nego Pile has helped countless families in Blue Bell, PA, to secure much-needed long-term care assistance for their loved ones. He has also assisted clients and their families in creating effective plans to protect their estate and receive the care they need without draining all of their financial assets. If you have questions about Medicaid planning or are ready to get started, contact our office at 610-718-6368.