One of the biggest fear seniors have is that their life savings will be eaten up by a nursing home within a couple of years if they or their spouse needs long-term skilled nursing care. This fear is not unfounded. A nursing home can easily cost over $80,000 per year. Given that the average stay in a nursing home is over two years, you could see $200,000 go up in a flash. However, even though Medicare does not pay for nursing home costs beyond the first 100 days, there is help available, even in a crisis situation when no advance planning has been done. In fact, it is never too late to protect at least some of your assets.
Don’t Believe the Myths
All it takes is a fall—suddenly, your spouse is in the hospital, and you are being told that they will not be able to return home with you. You now have to find a nursing home with space available and figure out how to pay for it. You might be aware that Medicaid will pay for nursing home care, but you’ve never qualified for Medicaid before and don’t understand how you would qualify now. It’s important that you resist the urge to believe what friends might be telling you: Get rid of your liquid assets so that you can get approved for Medicaid. Use your cash to buy jewelry—that won’t take that away! Put all of your money in your son’s name. None of these tactics will help, and they might even do more harm than good.
One fact you do need to be aware of is that Medicaid will look back over your financial records for the last five years, and if they see that you have given away money or put money in a Trust during that time, they will count those assets against you. That means that trying to get rid of assets quickly before applying for Medicaid is not going to work.
So, What Can You Do at the Last Minute?
The most important thing you can do after finding a safe place for your loved one is to talk to an Elder Law attorney. While there will be plenty of people offering advice—from neighbors to nursing home officials—only an advocate you have hired to help you find the best options for protecting your assets will understand your specific situation and what would be most effective for you. Even in a crisis situation, there are steps you can take to:
- Speed up the Medicaid approval process
- Limit the amount you are required to pay out of pocket
- Increase the assets and income you can keep
- Set aside some assets for your heirs
In addition, a Medicaid Planning attorney will be well-versed in the current income and asset limits set by Medicaid programs in Texas and Arkansas for both married couples and single people. If you are in a situation where your spouse needs a nursing home, but you do not, Medicaid does allow you to keep the family home, a car, a certain amount of liquid assets, and some income. You do not have to worry that all of your assets must be used to support your spouse, but there are still steps you can take to protect as much of your life savings as possible.
Make Ross & Shoalmire Your First Call
As much as we recommend planning ahead for the possibility that you might one day need a nursing home, we understand that it’s just not always possible. However, that does not mean that all hope is lost if you or your spouse has an accident and needs a nursing home in a crisis situation. Before you start “spending down” your assets to try to get approved for Medicaid, give us a call. It’s never too late to preserve and protect your hard-earned assets. Before you give up hope, contact the Elder Law team at Ross & Shoalmire, P.L.L.C., or call 1-833-888-ELDR.
Are You Looking for a Medicaid Planning Attorney in Texarkana, TX?
If you are looking for medicaid planning advice, you need to speak with an experienced medicaid planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903.223.5653. We also have offices in Tyler, Paris, Longview as well as Magnolia, AR!