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Medicaid: An area that rewards timely and sound planning

As noted in a recent article on elder law and long-term care planning, Medicaid coverage is "an extremely complex blend of federal, state and local laws, rules and customs." Owing to that, consultation with an estate planning attorney with in-depth experience in Medicaid regulations is instrumental in determining eligibility and restructuring assets so that elder planning is maximized and estate recovery minimized to the fullest extent possible.

Medicaid is flatly a present or future reality for millions of American seniors, being the government program most centrally involved with nursing home care and many other health-related services for aging individuals and family members.

As has been noted by many commentators, nursing home care is a subject that many people simply do not think about. For those who do, timeliness if often a factor that is not sufficiently appreciated. Many people incorrectly view Medicare as the vehicle that will help them finance long-term care, but it is in fact Medicaid that is the key resource in this area.

It is important to begin planning as soon as reasonably possible when Medicaid considerations surface. Eligibility requirements must be met and, because the program is taxpayer-funded, a comprehensive financial review process is undertaken in which eligibility verification must be ascertained prior to eligibility being established.

That process requires a scrutiny of several years' worth of financial investments, savings accounts, real estate transactions, gifts and other factors.

A proven estate planning attorney can be an invaluable resource for helping to identify assets and, in many instances, enabling them to be restructured or spent down so that they continue to be protected in the future while not jeopardizing eligibility for Medicaid.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Elder law: Approach Medicaid nursing home coverage with care," Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, March 24, 2013

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