Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Medicaid Planning

You may anticipate that you or a loved one will have to go into a nursing home in the future. You are worried about how you are going to pay for nursing home care. You know it costs between $4,000 and $7,000 a month.  This cost is well beyond the means that most families have saved to cover their medical needs. At $84,000 a year, most families can not keep up with the rising long term care costs. I have already spoken on the benefits of Long Term Care Insurance in an earlier post with a follow up on Long Term Care Insurance in this post. The problem may arise if you are too late to apply for long term care insurance. Long term care insurance is mostly for those who are health now. If you did not get insurance, medicaid planning is the method for you.

Medicaid planning is a very technical type of planning. I will start off the section on Medicaid planning with this warning, you should consult a professional before doing any type of asset transfer. I know you may be skeptical because I am a professional who does Medicaid Planning, but rest assured there is a good reason to go to a professional on this area. If you improperly transfer assets, you could be penalized for up to three times the amount of the asset transfer. This penalty is converted into a period of time and you will be excluded from Medicaid benefits for that many months. The purpose of this post is not to talk about the penalty for an improper asset transfer, but know that the penalty is much greater than it probably should be.

So how does Medicaid planning work? There are assets that are exempt and non-exempt. In order to qualify, you must have a total of non-exempt assets that are below the threshold allowable by Medicaid. This threshold is state specific because each state administrates the federal Medicaid program In Illinois, the Spousal Impoverishment Act allows a community spouse to keep $109,560 in non-exempt assets. It also allows a community spouse to earn a monthly income of $2,739 without having to contribute any of their income to the cared for spouses bills. There are some ways to ensure that your community assets meet this level, but the order of asset transfer must be precise and exact. An "auditor" for Medicaid will look back on any transaction that is made that transfer assets for the five years preceding the application to Medicaid or entry into a nursing home. The key for qualification to medicaid if to transfer assets from non-exempt property to exempt property in a method and manner that will not disqualify you from Medicaid benefits. The problem is if you transfer property in an improper manner, even if the ultimate goal is a proper asset transfer, you will suffer a severe penalty from Medicaid.

The other aspect of Medicaid planning is timely action. If you plan for Medicaid five or more years before you will need it, you will have many more options for transferring your money. You will have a myriad of trusts available to you .These trusts can transfer your assets to anyone you choose. You will not be limited to your spouse or disabled adult children. This is a big advantage for many reasons. You may not have any disabled children and you want to take advantage of tax breaks when giving money to your family. Additionally, you are not limited and under scrutiny with what you do with the money you earned.

If you would like to speak to a professional about Medicaid planning, call me at:

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794

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