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Medicaid: timely, purposeful action of fundamental importance

Families in Texas and across the United States with aging loved ones often have a host of considerations to think about. Each situation is unique, of course, but common concerns often arise as certain family members advance in years, sometimes becoming disabled in the process.

One such concern that arises in the elder law arena and with long-term care planning focuses centrally on residential planning.

Perhaps parents want to remain indefinitely in the family home, but noticeably declining health prospects for one or both of them render that an unlikely scenario. In such a case, it is often in the best interests of all family members to have a candid and loving discussion about living arrangements going forward.

Medicaid might feature prominently in such a discussion. Unfortunately, it is often greatly misunderstood by families and tardily visited. As an author on aging advises in an article from Forbes earlier this year, “don’t wait to learn about Medicaid.”

In fact, Virginia Morris recommends that the subject be visited with an experienced elder law attorney as soon as reasonably possible, especially when one parent will likely require nursing home care and the other parent wants to remain in the couple’s home.

There are a number of reasons why early and purposeful action is imperative, given the complex and changing rules that dictate Medicaid coverage Program eligibility is tied to income and asset limits, with the process far from being intuitive for many lay persons.

A spouse that seeks to live independently may be able to shield a significant amount of property and income from government authorities for use on a partner’s health care, but being able to do so is far from a sure thing. A thorough understanding of “spend down” and “look-back period” requirements and limitations is critically important, as are the nature of expenditures and the timing considerations related to them.

Medicaid can be a strong lifeline for many families involved in long-term planning, but ensuring that it is requires timely action. A proven estate planning attorney commanding strong experience in elder law matters can answer questions and provide assistance.

Source: Forbes, "Medicaid and your parents: the basics," Virginia Morris, Feb. 11, 2014

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