One of the main reasons that millions of people enroll in Medicaid every year is to avoid the exorbitant fees associated with living in a nursing home. With proper legal advice and comprehensive Medicaid planning from a licensed attorney, you and your family may be able to secure and protect your assets including your home, any streams of income, and your life savings from the high costs of long term care.
We asked New York Asset Protection Attorney Inna Fershteyn to explain how Medicaid can assist you with nursing home costs, and what steps you should take to protect your assets.
Question 1: If my spouse is going into a nursing home, can he or she transfer all of his or her assets to me and qualify for Medicaid?
Answer: Yes, your spouse can give monetary gifts to you ahead of time so that they can qualify for Medicaid. However, in order to qualify and not risk any penalties or denial, your spouse should make the gift at least five years in advance. It is also in your spouse’s best interest to gift other financial assets that may help him or her qualify for Medicaid. To your benefit, gifting also protects your money from nursing home costs and creditors’ claims.
Question 2: Can I transfer my assets to my children just before I go into a nursing home and still qualify for Medicaid?
Answer: Medicaid can be strict about the provisions of gifting or transferring assets. It really depends on when the gift was made. For example, transferring your assets right before going into a nursing home may make you ineligible or receive a penalty. This is because Medicaid has a five-year look-back period, under which individuals who’ve made or received any asset transfers must wait until five years after the transaction to apply for Medicaid or face a penalty if they apply prior. When transferring your assets, you need to keep in mind that once you make a transfer, it cannot be reversed. Thus, you need to be sure about your decision and plan preemptively.
Question 3: How can I protect my house?
Answer: You do not need to give away or sell your home to qualify for Medicaid as it is generally considered exempt property. In fact, giving away your house may be more harmful. Generally, Medicaid will cover the costs for your long-term home care. However, it could still become an issue after the death of the recipient, as Medicaid could ask for reimbursement. To protect your house, you could put it into a trust, so that creditors will not be able to claim it, and eventually, it will be transferred to the designated beneficiary and not the government. You can also go the route of selling your house to your children and creating a life estate. Nevertheless, it is best to consult with an attorney who will discuss your options and help you plan for Medicaid and protect your home.
Question 4: Do I need legal assistance?
Answer: The Medicaid planning process is complicated, and planning to live in a nursing home only makes the process more difficult and convoluted. You could try to organize plan yourself, but it is very easy to make a mistake that could cost you your eligibility. Thus, it is important to seek professional help from an experienced Medicaid planning attorney who is familiar with the regulations surrounding the program and will be able to guide you in effectively protecting your assets.
If you or a loved one is anticipating are seeking approval to Medicaid and are concerned for the security of your assets, call the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn and Associates, P.C at (718) 333-2394 today to schedule a consultation.