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Continued focus: How can a Miller Trust help my family?

With many estate administration concerns, advance planning can make all the difference.

Although that might seem immediately obvious to many people regarding things like wills, tax avoidance and the disposition of assets to heirs, it can be a bit less clear in other areas.

Take Medicaid for example, especially the program's requirements for qualification.

Many people are flatly in the dark on that subject matter, and understandably so, given the complexity with which the program is administered and its benefits conferred.

For starters, and as we noted in our immediately preceding blog post (please see our January 22 entry), many families might have a pressing need to qualify one of their loved ones for Medicaid benefits, yet have grave concerns that they will be deemed ineligible.

Such worries spell legitimate concerns, owing to the income qualifications associated with Medicaid. Succinctly stated, regulators look at income to determine program eligibility; too much income renders an applicant ineligible, while too little often makes other care alternatives seem starkly out of reach.

A so-called "qualified income trust" -- commonly referred to as a Miller Trust -- can be an invaluable tool for many families seeking to preserve as much income as possible while still qualifying an older family member for Medicaid assistance.

As an overview of Miller Trusts notes, this planning vehicle enables an individual or family "to reduce the amount of income counted in determining Medicaid eligibility without losing the use of any income."

For obvious reasons, that can be critically important to a family.

Understandably, there are a number of rules and specific processes associated with Miller Trusts, which an interested person can address with a proven estate planning attorney.

As the above-cited overview states, following through on such a discussion and the formulation of a well-tailored strategy can elicit "the peace of mind that comes from having a plan."

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