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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Medicaid Planning Can Protect Assets from Reach of Nursing Homes

Can I qualify for Medicaid?

No one wants to think about ending up in a nursing home. But New York and New Jersey Medicaid planning attorneys know that the earlier clients plan for the possibility of needing long-term nursing home care down the line, the better off they likely will be.

Comprehensive estate planning not only provides-- through a last will and testament-- how assets will be distributed after death, but also incorporates other legal documents to plan for incapacity prior to death. These documents include powers of attorney and healthcare proxies that empower trusted family members or friends to make financial and/or medical decisions in the event an accident or illness leaves the client unable to do so themselves.

Medicaid planning can allow people to qualify for Medicaid—financial assistance from the government-- in the event they need long-term nursing home care in the future. While that vast majority of people without Medicaid planning would have income and assets over the threshold to qualify, proper Medicaid planning by a skilled attorney can spend down or shelter certain assets. This can enable them to protect their life savings and assets they hope to leave to their loved ones from the grasp of the nursing home.

There are many ways to handle Medicaid planning to secure the future of your loved ones which involve trusts, but it’s best to take action many years before the need arises because there is a five year lookback period from the time of the Medicaid application and certain transfers of property within that period can result in a penalty period of ineligibility for Medicaid benefits.

Most elder law attorneys can also counsel clients (or their involved, adult children) on the criteria to look for when selecting a nursing home.

Recently, a Pennsylvania nurse was charged with multiple counts of invasion of privacy and abusive care for allegedly taking “explicit and private” photographs of at least 17 nursing home residents over a period of more than a year and reportedly sending them to a former staff member who then reported her to authorities. Some of the humiliating photos were reportedly taken of patients suffering from dementia, leaving their family members shocked and outraged and considering civil legal action.

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan, or with modifying an existing one, or if you would like to discuss Medicaid planning, the estate planning and elder law attorneys at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Staten Island, New York, and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we represent clients in both states in all matters of estate planning and administration as well as real estate law.

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