Charlotte Elder Law and Medicaid Lawyers

If you are confused about Medicaid coverage, you are not alone. The eligibility requirements for Medicaid are complex, and Medicaid regulations change frequently. Trying to understand this changing area of the law can seem overwhelming, but it does not need to be. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we will work to help you create a plan to qualify for Medicaid coverage. We will work to ensure that our elderly clients’ assets are protected.

What is Elder Law?

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our attorneys can assist in you with your elder law questions and needs. Elder law is one type of estate planning that focuses on planning for long-term care, complex health care needs, and other matters facing disabled and elderly individuals and their loved ones. Most of us will need some type of long-term care at some time during our lives. Therefore, everybody should consider how they will pay for residency in a nursing home or other assisted living facility.

Unfortunately, the cost of nursing homes has increased dramatically in recent years. In North Carolina, the median cost of nursing home care is nearly $74,000 annually. North Carolina nursing homes range from $3,900 to $8,490 monthly. Many families, even those who have saved carefully for retirement, are unable to pay these expensive fees to care for their loved ones. Taking the time to speak with an elder law attorney will help you plan for your potential future nursing home care needs. The sooner you start planning, the better.

The Importance of Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is an insurance benefits program offered and administered by states. Medicaid will cover the cost of nursing home care and long-term care services for those who are eligible. Medicare, on the other hand, will not pay for long-term nursing care services. Medicare will only pay for short-term stays after a qualifying medical emergency. You may assume that you will be able to qualify for Medicaid when you need it but qualifying is not easy.

Medicaid is a benefit program based on need. You will have to show that you have minimal income and limited assets in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits. There are many myths surrounding qualifying for Medicaid. If you are stable financially, or you have significant retirement savings, you may assume that you will never qualify for Medicaid benefits. However, you may still be eligible for Medicaid without using your retirement funds to pay for your nursing home stay.

Medicaid Planning

The sooner you begin Medicaid planning, the better. Medicaid has a look-back period of five years. If you transfer all of your assets to your children to qualify for Medicaid, for example, Medicaid will hold those assets against you for five years before you are eligible for Medicaid. Instead, you should set up an Irrevocable Living Trust to give your family members gifts to avoid paying for Medicaid expenses. You may be able to convert your income and assets into a Qualified Income Trust or Miller Trust. These trusts are used to help you qualify for Medicaid when you would not meet the qualifications but do not have enough resources to pay for long-term care.

These types of transactions are complex and require the expertise of financial planners and attorneys. When one spouse requires long-term care, but the other spouse can still live independently in the family home, the situation will become even more complicated. Working with an estate planning or elder law attorney will help you to overcome these challenges and allow you to qualify for long-term care benefits through Medicaid while protecting your income and assets.

Contact an Elder Law Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you are healthy and able to care for yourself, you may think there is no reason to reach out to a Medicaid planning lawyer. After all, it can be challenging to think about becoming unable to live independently. However, long-term care preparation is the best way to protect your assets while qualifying for Medicaid when you need the insurance coverage.

Without Medicaid planning, you and your family could find yourselves in an emergency, needing long-term care but not qualifying for Medicaid. If this happens, you will need to drain your personal assets before you are eligible for Medicaid. One of the best things you can do to protect your assets is to speak with an elder law attorney about your future. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your initial consultation at our Charlotte, Mooresville, or Monroe offices.