Making The Complex

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Plan ahead for long-term elder law issues

As one ages, it is not unusual for health issues to arise, and this often brings thoughts of the potential need for long-term care. Long-term nursing care in Louisiana can be expensive, potentially more than $80,000 a year. Planning for this significant expense is an aspect of elder law one should deal with sooner rather than later.

Not many are able to save the amount of money necessary to pay for nursing home care for the long term, so qualifying for Medicaid is essential. However, to be eligible for Medicaid, one’s total assets and income must be lower than Medicaid’s minimum requirement, which changes periodically. For those with savings, investments, property and other valuables, careful planning is vital to avoid having to spend down those assets.

Options for protecting your property

Medicaid does not count every asset toward eligibility. It is often possible to protect some valuables if one plans ahead. Any assets one gives away or sells within five years of applying for Medicaid may result in a delay of benefits, which could be detrimental if someone needs care. Since it is not always possible to know when one will require long-term care, it is wise to meet early with a legal professional who has experience in Medicaid planning.

Medicaid planning may include transferring some valuables into a trust, which changes countable assets into exempt assets. Trusts hold ownership of the assets but can provide for the needs of someone while not jeopardizing his or her Medicaid eligibility. However, even transferring assets to a trust may fall under Medicaid’s look-back period, so planning early with a Louisiana elder law attorney is the smart thing to do.


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