Are you unsure as to how to protect your (or your parents’) money from Medicaid?

The elderly may find themselves facing financial ruin in their later years. Fortunately, there’s Medicaid, but in most cases, they have to spend down almost all their savings — money they may have spent their entire working lives amassing. Fortunately, if you’re careful and work far in advance, there are ways to legally “hide” your savings from Medicaid.

The key number to remember is 60 months. You need to set aside money 5 years before you need Medicaid or you’re out of luck, possibly facing penalties and program disqualification. With that caveat in mind, which legal and financial strategies can help? While this is a complex topic, I have summarized some of the strategies we suggest below.

Asset-protection trusts

These trusts are designed to provide asset protection so the assets no longer belong to you and are beyond the reach of Medicaid. You can transfer your home into a trust and still live in the home. You can also add income-producing assets and still receive the income but not the principal.

Qualified income trusts

QITs are irrevocable trusts designed to hold an applicant’s excess income. Some states allow the spend down to meet Medicaid limits but others don’t, so QITs come in handy. A trustee will be appointed to manage the disbursement of funds for allowable expenses.

Pooled income trusts

These also are irrevocable accounts used to hold excess income, but they are for disabled individuals. The surplus income is pooled together and managed by a nonprofit that acts as a trustee and disburses the funds. Unused funds remain with the trust for charitable purposes.

Medicaid-compliant annuities and promissory notes

A properly worded and structured annuity or promissory note creates cash flow from your assets that can be used to pay the nursing home during a shortened penalty period of 30 months. The monthly income, together with your Social Security benefits and pension, are used to pay the nursing home for your care. It can be a good “last minute” solution.

Spousal transfers and spousal refusal

Transfers between spouses are permitted and, unlike many other strategies, are not subject to the look-back period. One basic Medicaid-planning strategy is to transfer assets to the well spouse who still lives in their home, referred to as the community spouse. New York and Florida permit spousal refusal — the healthy spouse refuses to provide support for the spouse who needs care, allowing the ill spouse to be immediately eligible for Medicaid. 

This is just an introduction to a very complex topic, and rules can vary from one state to another. You need specialized professionals who are familiar with your state’s Medicaid programs. These individuals can work within the laws to produce as favorable an outcome as possible for you. Legally sheltering certain assets and using them to avoid paying the high cost of a nursing home is crucial. But you need to start now and not wait until the situation becomes critical.

Do you want to hire an attorney to help you?

Click HERE to contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Durng this consultation, we can discuss how we can help you protect your money from Medicaid.

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