Medicaid is the joint federal and state program that provides medical care to people who cannot afford it, as well as to people who are permanently or chronically ill, injured or disabled. For eligible persons, Medicaid can cover the costs of a variety of care services, such as doctor, hospital, medication, medical supplies and long-term home or nursing home care bills.

Medicaid Eligibility: Long-term care can deplete savings quickly, especially for people of modest means. Well-laid plans for retirement and to leave assets to your children can be sidetracked by long-term illness and the need to reside in a nursing home. But Medicaid is a program for people of very limited assets and income, and most people are ineligible. One option to meet the eligibility requirements is to simply spend your excess assets; however, this will leave you in poverty and will also keep you from leaving anything to your family in your estate.

Medicaid Planning: Medicaid planning is a method of advance estate planning that can help you become eligible for Medicaid and preserve assets, even if your income and assets are too high to make you eligible for Medicaid. Because of certain rules allowing Medicaid to look at your assets years before you apply, it is important to do Medicaid Planning early—at least five years before you may need a long-term care facility. In addition, there are other rules that enable Medicaid to recover certain costs from you if your assets increase. Medicaid Planning tools can help avoid the pitfalls of Medicaid eligibility and include:

  • Purchasing long-term care insurance;
  • Making gifts of cash and securities to family members;
  • Purchasing income annuities in the name of a non-Medicaid receiving spouse;
  • Transfer of your house while retaining some rights to it; and
  • Placing certain assets into an Irrevocable Medicaid Planning Trust.

Proper use of these techniques can reduce the income and asset base that Medicaid will use to determine your eligibility.

I want to explore Medicaid Planning:

  • Document your income and assets.
  • Determine how you might want to distribute some of your assets.
  • Get in touch with an experienced estate planning or elder lawyer.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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