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What Questions Should I Ask My Medicaid Planning Expert?

Dec 21, 2021 | Uncategorized

As people age, the question of long-term care becomes more and more important to both the elder individual and his/her family members. It is good to plan early because already having a plan in place can help immensely if certain health issues arise quickly and you need answers just as quickly. You need a Medicaid planning expert. You can trust a certified Medicaid planner to help guide you.

What Does Estate Planning Mean?

Estate planning is an activity you undertake before your death to ensure that all your assets will be transferred to your heirs and that all estate tax matters are settled so as not to leave a jungle of problems for your family.

If you do not have estate planning, the task of transferring your estate to your heirs requires probate, which is both time-consuming and expensive. Estate planning is usually done with assistance from a lawyer experienced in estate law.

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What Type of Assets are Exempt From Florida Nursing Care Medicaid?

Assets that are exempt include:

  • Business property
  • Certain retirement accounts
  • Homestead (your home)
  • Irrevocable burial contracts
  • Money designated for burial expenses (limit of $2,500 per person)
  • Burial plot expenses (only one burial plot for each family member)
  • Certain personal property
  • One vehicle
  • If you have a second vehicle, it has to be at least seven years old
  • Life insurance policy with no cash value. If it does have cash value, it should be less than $2,500.
  • Only one wedding ring

What Will Happen to My Home If I Am Married?

Florida Medicaid rules for homestead (your main residence is referred to as your homestead in Florida) property depend on whether you are married or single. For married couples, if only one spouse is applying for Medicaid, the other spouse (also called a community spouse) will remain in the home. In such cases, Medicaid does not take into account the homestead’s value.

Even if you are single, your home is protected and is usually an exempt asset as long as you have an intent to return to your home. The amount of time you decide to stay in the nursing home is not relevant. If you have no intention of returning to your home, then the home proceeds will go towards paying for the long-term care.

What is the Five-Year Rule for Florida Medicaid?

When you apply for long-term nursing home care assistance from Medicaid, the agency will look back at all your assets over the last five years. In order to be eligible for Medicaid, you simply cannot give your assets away.

If within the five-year look-back period, Medicaid discovers that you gave away your assets or spent the money on trivial things (e.g., adding a swimming pool to the home, taking an around-the-world vacation), you will NOT be awarded any assistance from Medicaid and, in fact, you may even be charged with fraud.

At the very least, you could be penalized for a specified period of time without access to any Medicaid benefits.

How Much Money Can I Have in My Bank Account When Applying for Florida Medicaid?

Medicaid has strict rules on how much money you can have in a bank. In 2021, you can only have 2,000 dollars as savings. Medicaid will go over all your bank accounts for the past five years to ensure that you have not given large sums of money to friends/family just to help qualify for nursing care assistance. A certified Medicaid planner can help guide you.

To Qualify for Florida Medicaid, How Much Can I Own as Countable Assets?

In 2021, Medicaid applicants in Florida can only have an income of $2,382 per month and have up to $2,000 in countable assets to qualify. Assets that are considered countable for Medicaid purposes include the following:

  • All cash
  • All your savings
  • Properties besides your home
  • Investments

If the total sum of the countable assets is greater than $2,000, then you are not eligible for Florida Medicaid.

Is it Necessary to Have a Will?

In general, if you have any type of assets, like real estate or investments, and if you would like them to go to your children or spouse, then it is important to have a Will. If you do not have a Will, a probate court will decide on the distribution of assets. Probate is a time-consuming venture and can also be expensive. When you have a Will, it usually eliminates conflicts among the heirs.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that transfers assets from a deceased individual to his or her heirs. The probate court will select an executor who will determine all the assets and who the heirs are, including discovering any lien holders.

Before the assets can be distributed to the heirs, all tax matters and liens are first paid. You usually need assistance from a lawyer to help you with the probate process as it is fraught with many legal steps.

What Documents are Needed When Completing a Florida Medicaid Application for Nursing Home Assistance?

Florida Medicaid applications usually require the following documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Documents verifying all your investments, including checking, savings, stocks, bonds, CDs, annuities, IRAs, etc.
  • Monthly statements of all your income
  • Any accounts closed or opened within the past 5 years need documentation
  • Copies of all checks written above $500 over the past 5 years
  • Medicare card
  • Social security card
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Income verification document from Social Security
  • Documents of all pension income, including check stubs
  • Documents reflecting monthly income
  • All insurance policies
  • Copy of Last Will
  • Income tax returns over the past 5 years
  • Car registration and proof of insurance
  • Deeds of your home(s) and fair market value of your home
  • A recent property tax bill
  • If you have made any burial arrangements, all prepaid funeral contracts must be provided.

Do I Need an Estate Lawyer to File for Florida Medicaid?

You are at liberty to file your own Medicaid application but be forewarned, the application process is not straightforward. There is a need for extensive documentation, and you have to know what assets are countable and not countable by Medicaid.

Plus, Medicaid has a 5-year look-back period to ensure that you have not given your assets away to anyone just to become eligible. Any mistake in the application cannot only result in your disqualification but could also result in fraud charges.

Remember, if you have more than $2,000 in assets, you are not eligible for Medicaid assistance. An experienced estate lawyer cannot only educate you on the requirements for Medicaid but can also suggest legal ways to protect your assets.

Why Do I Need Medicaid Planning Now?

It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of seniors will need some type of long-term care at some point in their lives. Nursing home care is not cheap; in fact, some of the current monthly rates are over $8,000; a sum that is prohibitively expensive for many seniors.

Plus, if you have assets or an income above $2,000 a month, you may not be eligible for Medicaid. Thus, you need to plan for Medicaid early. A Medicaid planning expert can suggest ways to protect your assets.

Conclusion

It is always better to be prepared than not. In situations where ill health can play into the equation and you need answers fast, it’s not always possible or the best scenario to leave planning to the last minute.

Talk to a certified Medicaid planner today so that any decisions that might have to be made tomorrow can be a little easier and a little less stressful. Knowing you have solid plans in place can help ease your mind at a critical time. Call Elder Law today at 1-561-588-7512. Experts are standing by to help you.

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