When you are contemplating the legacy that you will be able to leave behind to your loved ones, you should seriously consider the eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. Frankly, some of these possible circumstances are not very pleasant to contemplate, but it is wise to address them head on when you are looking ahead toward your elder years.
Alzheimer’s disease is a very big threat to our nation’s senior citizens. If you want to obtain useful information about the disease and the impact it is having on families, you may want to visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.
These people are doing a great deal of fine work all around the country, and there is a local Florida Gulf Coast Alzheimer’s Association Chapter. If you want to get involved, they are actually looking for volunteers right now. If you visit their website, you can explore the opportunities, and you can also learn about local events that are taking place on an ongoing basis.
Alzheimer’s, Nursing Homes, and Medicaid
When you hear mention of the Medicaid program, you may tune out. As a working person, you probably have health insurance through your job. Plus, you are paying into the Medicare program along the way, so you may be confident about the health care coverage that you will be entitled to as a senior citizen.
All of the above makes sense, but Medicaid does become relevant to a significant percentage of senior citizens at some point in time. This is because of the fact that Medicare does not pay for long-term care.
Clearly, a lot of people with Alzheimer’s are going to require nursing home care, so this is a very pressing matter within the elder law community.
Qualifying for Medicaid
When you are told that most seniors in nursing homes are enrolled in the Medicaid program, you may wonder about the eligibility requirements. Medicaid is in fact a program that is only available to people who can prove that they have financial need, so there is a Medicaid asset limit.
For seniors seeking long-term care, the Medicaid asset limit is just $2000 for an individual. This can sound like a very small amount of money, and it is, but some things that you own do not count.
Your home is not looked upon as a countable asset, but there is an equity limit of $552,000 in Florida in 2016. We should point out the fact that there is no equity limit at all if a healthy spouse is remaining in the family residence while his or her spouse is entering a nursing home.
There are some other assets that are not considered to be countable by the Medicaid program. You can retain one vehicle that is used for transportation. Plus, you can have unlimited term life insurance, and you can have a whole life insurance policy, as long as its value does not exceed $1500.
Your household goods and your personal effects would not be countable, and your wedding ring, your engagement ring, and any heirloom jewelry that you may have would not be looked upon as countable assets by Medicaid administrators.
When it comes to the assets that you have that are countable, you could give gifts to get assets out of your own name as you are aiming toward future Medicaid eligibility. You have probably always intended to leave inheritances to your loved ones, so you could in essence give them their inheritances in advance.
If you take the right steps, you can keep a maximum store of assets in the family as you simultaneously work toward eligibility for Medicaid coverage.
Direct gift giving is certainly an option, but there is another possibility. You could create and fund an irrevocable Medicaid trust. If you go this route, the assets that you used to fund the trust would not be counted against you when you are applying for Medicaid.
You do have to be aware of the fact that this is a permanent decision. Since the trust is not revocable, you could not change your mind and take back the assets, even if you never need long-term care.
It is possible to create an income-only Medicaid trust. You could receive distributions from the earnings of the trust on an ongoing basis, but the principal would not be counted by the Medicaid program.
Timing can be a factor when you are giving gifts, because there is a five-year look-back. You have to complete your gift giving at least five years before you apply for Medicaid if you want to obtain coverage in a timely manner.
However, this may not be a factor if you are married and you are in possession of somewhat limited resources.
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to discuss Medicaid planning with a licensed elder law attorney, send us a message through our contact page or call us at 239-225-7911.