You do not necessarily need to spend all your money before you qualify for Medicaid, but you do need to plan carefully how to manage your income and assets in order to avoid having to spend down to your last $999.00.
The most important thing to consider when thinking about Medicaid Planning is that it is better to do it early than late. The more time before you need nursing- or long-term care, the more flexibility you have in how your assets and income are managed, and the more money you and your family will be left with once you are out of nursing care.
The rules regarding Medicaid eligibility are complex, vary from state-to-state, and frequently change. Its critical to contact an Elder Care Planning or Medicaid Planning attorney in your state for advice that is particular to your assets, income, needs, and situation.
In most cases, your personal residence is exempt from Medicaid eligibility requirements, although many states have a clawback rule that provides that if a home is given away and a Medicaid recipient dies, the state may pull the house back into a Probate Estate (also known as Estate Recovery) and make a claim against the homes value.
Medicaid also has a 5-year look-back period, which means that if you give away your assets within that period, you will not qualify for Medicaid for a certain period of time after the gift was made. In some cases, you may intentionally want to give some assets away to protect them and calculate the amount of time you will be ineligible, and plan to pay for costs out of pocket with another portion of your assets.
There are many tools at your disposal to protect and preserve assets and income for maximum value for you and your family and minimum impact on Medicaid, but you need to work with knowledgeable and experienced attorney in your state to develop a plan personalized for your needs. You can find a qualified attorney through referrals from friends and family, or through your state or city bar association, or at www.NAELA.org.
If you are in the Chesterfield, MO area, give us a call at 636-394-0009 or contact us, and we will be happy to discuss your situation.