The Importance Of Proper Medicaid Planning Cannot Be Overstated

Medicaid planning is a critical part of elder law. Eligibility for benefits is based in part on the amount of your assets and in part on the amount of your income. Unfortunately, Medicaid law is not intuitive. It requires an understanding of federal and state statutes, as well as regulations that are difficult to understand and that often conflict with other laws. Too often, clients who try to deal with matters on their own learn they have made a mistake. Only then do they seek out a lawyer, hoping it is not too late to fix things and make the problem go away.

If you transfer assets during the five-year period before applying for Medicaid benefits, and if those transfers were for "uncompensated value" (Medicaid's way of referring to a gift), you may be subject to a penalty that results in a period of ineligibility for Medicaid benefits. The amount of the penalty depends on the amount of the gift. One of the most common mistakes is to make gifts to children and grandchildren, because the IRS permits annual gifts of up to $13,000 per person. Although the IRS does permit such gifts, Medicaid will disregard them, and you can be disqualified from Medicaid eligibility for a year or more, depending on the amount of the gifts.

Helping You Understand Your Options

At the law office of Michael C. Rudolph, Esq., P.A., I offer my clients over 50 years of experience as an attorney. I handle Medicaid applications and planning. I know these can be intimidating and confusing issues, but I can help you make sense of it all. I am happy to take the time to walk you through the process, step by step, to make sure everything is in order.

No one can learn about Medicaid overnight or by surfing the Internet for a few hours. Not all lawyers are willing to put in the time to grasp the fundamentals and continue the learning process. Not all lawyers have the patience to work with senior citizens and their families until they truly understand the consequences of Medicaid planning. I can help remove the confusion and provide you with the level of comfort that you and your family deserve.

Parents almost always want to leave a legacy for their children. I am frequently asked, "Can you help so I don't have to turn my house over to a nursing home?" We can usually develop a plan allowing you to transfer assets and still retain eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Using the Medicaid law, and working within its guidelines, I can help you design a plan that will allow you to transfer the maximum possible percentage of your assets to your beneficiaries.

It's A Family Affair

Because every case is different, how much you can transfer depends on your specific circumstances. The earlier you begin the planning process, the more options you will have. Because the transfer of assets usually is accompanied by a loss of control over those assets, we have to discuss how much control you are willing to give up. Sometimes, through the use of trusts or other techniques, we can make transfers but still allow you to retain a significant degree of control. This requires an understanding of the law and how to use it to your advantage.

I frequently meet with parents and their children so the entire family can understand the issues that need to be considered, and the choices that can be made. When the family is involved, we eliminate the misunderstandings that can occur when advice I give is relayed to a third party who does not have a chance to ask questions. When the parents finally decide on a plan, everyone understands it.

Most people do not realize that some asset transfers are exempt from the penalty provisions of the Medicaid regulations that prohibit transfers for "uncompensated value." For example even after you enter a nursing home, you may transfer any of your assets to:

  • Your adult child who is blind or permanently disabled
  • A trust for the sole benefit of someone who is under age 65 and permanently disabled (whether or not that person is your child).

You do not have to wait for the expiration of Medicaid's five-year look-back period, and you can even make the transfer after you have entered a nursing home.

  • You are permitted to transfer your home to your spouse, or your child who is under age 21.
  • You can even transfer your house to your adult child who has lived in your home for at least two years before you entered a nursing home, as long as you can establish that he/she provided you with care that allowed you to stay at home during that time.

These are just some of the transfers that are exempt from the Medicaid Law. There is a great deal you can do if you seek the advice of someone who knows the law.

Ready To Help You Plan

Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. I have a home office in Kinnelon and a satellite office in Oakland for the convenience of my clients. Both offices are handicap accessible. I am available during regular business hours in Kinnelon and by appointment in Oakland.

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