Areas of Practice
Medicaid is a Federal Program which will pay for the cost of the nursing home based on medical need and on the finances of the individual or the married couple. This Federal program is administered at the State and County levels. It is one of the most complex areas of law and requires a skilled and experienced professional to navigate.
Medicaid Planning is the process by which a single resident or spouse of a resident in a Nursing Home, who is not eligible due to the amount of assets they have, is still able to obtain Medicaid Eligibility by using exemptions and conversion of assets into income. This can mean a spouse, who might be $100,000.00 over the eligibility limits for Medicaid, can yet immediately obtain Medicaid for her husband. Medicaid planning is perfectly legal.
Asset Protection and Estate Recovery
Asset Protection is the process by which a person’s assets are protected from being unnecessarily spent on the Nursing Facility. This is done through a combination of maximizing exempt assets, structuring assets that are deemed available into a stream of income so that they are no longer an asset, or if necessary gifts can be made even if the client is already in the Nursing Facility and despite the well known “5 Year Look-Back Rule”. In addition, once Medicaid Eligibility is obtained, it is critical to then have the Institutionalized spouse’s name removed from assets such as the home, most bank accounts, as beneficiary of life insurance polices, and other assets to prevent the state of Ohio from recovering against those assets. If this step is not taken, and the “well” spouse at home predeceases her institutionalized Husband, allowing the institutionalized spouse to inherit all assets, Medicaid will terminate for the institutionalized spouse. This can be easily avoided with the correct planning.
Financial Powers of Attorney
One of the most critical documents needed is a Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows a loved one to step into the shoes of the institutionalized person and make necessary changes to assets when needed. Due to the evolution in the way financial institutions honor Financial Powers of Attorney over the years it is critical that the document be sufficient for what needs to be done with assets. Without this document planning could be defeated.
Probate is the process by which a person who dies owning assets solely in their name, (not jointly, and with no beneficiary designations) has a Probate estate opened in their County Probate Court, an Executor or Administrator is appointed to handle the affairs, and the assets are able to be accessed and legally distributed to the heirs.
Probate avoidance is the process by which assets can easily be re-registered in a way that they pass directly to the desired heirs without having to go through the Probate Court and no estate needs opened. It can save a great deal of time and money upon the passing of a loved one