The idea of needing Medicaid long term care (Medicaid LTC) can be off-putting to some. There’s a strong bias in our society in favor of those who manage to save enough money during their working years to support them through their late elderhood—even as this possibility has grown less likely to occur for many because of both the lengthening of the human life-span and issues related to debt and inflation. Whatever the reason, Virginians may find they need the services that Medicaid LTC can provide. But there are (as in all things) a few catches, which our expert estate planning attorneys—also elder law attorneys—can help with.
Seniors naturally want to keep themselves as independent as possible for as long as possible. They also tend to want to protect their assets from being devoured by long term care costs or a Medicaid LTC spenddown. The fact is, if a person has a certain value of assets of a kind (known as “countable resources”—which are pretty much everything except a number of specifically enumerated types of property) in their possession when Medicaid’s provisions become necessary for them, the value of those assets can be used to bar that person from the benefits Medicaid LTC provides. This then requires that the personal assets be lowered until they have reached a low-enough level that Medicaid LTC can be applied for and provided to them. That “certain amount of time beforehand” is key here.
Virginia has a “Medicaid Look-Back Period” of five years in which certain transfers to other people can affect eligibility for Medicaid LTC benefits. This means that in the previous five years, a person cannot have sold any of their “eligible assets” for below market value, or have given them away to anyone, including one’s children, except in specified narrow circumstances. If they have done so, the Medicaid administrators will be forced to automatically assume the person did with the intention of lowering their assets to gain eligibility to Medicaid LTC programs. If this is the case, then a transfer penalty period applies during which no Medicaid LTC benefits are available and another means must be available to pay for the costs of care.
Which is all to say: it’s a very good idea to be thinking well ahead about whether you—or a loved one—may need the benefits of Medicaid LTC in the not-too-distant future. We can help you plan for the possibility.
What are the financial requirements for an elder to qualify for Medicaid LTC?
There is no income cap, but a person’s monthly income essentially becomes a co-pay to the care center. In other words, they do not get to keep the income. They also are not permitted to possess more than $2,000 in “countable resources.” Fortunately, there are many forms of property that are considered exempt from this total. Still, the sorts of property that are counted as eligible assets include real estate that is not an elder’s place of residence (and the residence is only protected for married applicants with their spouse in the home!), cash, checking accounts, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, investments, and IRAs.
Therefore, if an elder is to have any hope of providing one’s loved ones with an inheritance, of keeping property in the family, or any other sort of use of property beyond spending it down before qualifying for Medicaid LTC, a plan must be made. There are numerous ways to approach this issue depending on what one wants to accomplish. But it’s best done well before Medicaid LTC is necessary, requiring a great deal of forethought. Our elder law attorneys specialize in this sort of forethought, and the various forms in which it may come. All you need to do is let us help you.
We Can Help With Medicaid Planning
So whether you need to assess your loved one’s situation vis-à-vis Medicaid LTC eligibility or you are considering other ways to help them plan for the future, view Promise Law’s free Medicaid workshop. The workshop is available “on demand” and provides a great foundation of information that everyone needs to understand Medicaid long-term care and be able to make good planning decisions. Moreover, if you attend a workshop you also get a complimentary consultation to assess your particular situation.