After saving money for a lifetime to retire, the last thing you want is to spend all your money on nursing home expenses. While Medicaid covers the cost of nursing home care, you’ll need to be aware of income and asset limits to become eligible.
If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to start planning for the future as soon as possible. Planning for your future can be the most empowering thing you do to make sure your final wishes are honored by loved ones and health care providers.
If you are getting ready for retirement, you’ll want to make sure you have a comprehensive estate plan in place (if you don’t already have one). What an estate plan does is make sure that your property is distributed according to your final wishes.
Estate planning gives you peace of mind so you don’t have to worry about your assets going to the right people after you pass away. Estate planning can also outline medical treatment in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
QUESTION: Mom is having trouble living independently but would like to live in her home for as long as possible. Is there any problem with Mom paying a relative to provide care in her home?
A Power of Attorney ("POA") is a legal document by which you (the "principal") give certain powers to someone else. This person becomes your "agent" and is authorized to act for you in your place.
QUESTION: I've heard that Medicaid is making big changes to long term care. Can I still protect my assets?
After 20 years of agreeing with the use of an irrevocable "solely for the benefit of" trust, the State of Michigan has decided to disallow the technique commonly used to protect and preserve assets for married couples facing a nursing home stay.
Do you have a child that turned eighteen or is about to turn eighteen? What about a child on their way off to college?
Long Term Care Planning allows my clients to protect hard earned money from the draining cost of long-term care, perhaps even allowing the client to stay in their home rather than move to a skilled nursing facility, (nursing home) without selling your house, without wiping out your life savings, without leaving your spouse penniless, and possibly still leave an inheritance for children and/or a charity!
A so-called "ladybird deed" has become quite popular with Michigan elder law and estate planning practitioners in the past decade. What is it? A ladybird deed (also known as a "transfer on death deed") is a real property transfer wherein the grantor (usually the elder client) reserves all rights of ownership until his or her death.
Michigan Medicaid eligibility has been fairly consistent over the years in not counting (or treating as "exempt") the value of an applicant's homestead. The homestead has been defined by Medicaid as the residence the applicant lives in or intends to return to if nursing home services are no longer necessary. The homestead definition includes all contiguous land - that is land not separated by another's land. Historically, the homestead was also defined to include any structures, including other residences, on the homestead property.
On the one year anniversary after an individual has been approved for Medicaid, and on each subsequent one year anniversary, a "recertification" application is required to be submitted. Historically, this has been a fairly straightforward affair, as the Medicaid recipient normally only owns one account with (hopefully) less $2,000.
For many years, jointly owned real estate was considered "unavailable" for Medicaid purposes. In other words, the family cottage owned jointly with Mom, Dad and daughter Susie was NOT a countable asset for Medicaid purposes because it was not available to be sold (mom and dad could not force Susie to sell, nor could Susie force mom and dad sell). That all changed in 2010, when, against the United States Constitution, Michigan decided to count jointly owned real estate as an "available" assets. In other words, Michigan DHS seems to imply that joint owner CAN IN FACT FORCE EACH TO SELL!
Recent changes to the Medicaid eligibility rules have re-defined the term "fair market value." Specifically, the regulations state that a sale BETWEEN RELATIVES is NOT for fair market unless, proved otherwise. The regulations do not define the term "relative," meaning sales between parents, children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces/nephews, etc. could be included.
A "protective order," a directive from the probate court regarding the assets of a nursing home patient, is a little know but highly productive tool in the Medicaid planning arsenal.
When a nursing home spouse applies for Medicaid benefits in Michigan, the "community spouse" is entitled to keep exempt assets ( for example, the home) plus a predetermined asset allowance. With the help of a knowledgeable elder law attorney, a community spouse often protect and preserve 100% of the assets through various methods (see this blog, community spouse asset protection).
When a nursing home patient applies for Medicaid assistance, he is asked to report any gifts or transfers made in the FIVE YEARS immediately prior. These transfers are called "divestments" and will result in a penalty period for the nursing home patient, preventing Medicaid eligibility.
When a long-term care Medicaid beneficiary dies, HMS generates various documents, including: The Notice of Intent to File Claim Against Estate and the Michigan Estate Recovery Questionnaire. These two documents are mailed to an individual, or law firm, identified by HMS as the “primary contact” for the decedent within 30 days of the death of the Medicaid beneficiary.
On July 1, 2011, Michigan began its long anticipated “Estate Recovery” program.
Michigan Medicaid Rules Made Easy! Part One: Understanding the Difference between Countable Assets and Exempt Assets
A spouse, child or other relative helps check-in a loved-on into a nursing home. The relative is supplied numerous “admission forms” to sign. Watch out! One form may be an “acceptance of responsibility” contract. That’s right… when helping your loved-one admit to a nursing home, you may unwittingly guaranty payment of the nursing home bill should the patient not be able to pay.