Answers To Common Medicaid Questions
Q: Medicare paid for Dad’s hospital after his stroke. Won’t Medicare pay for nursing home, too?
A: No. Medicare and Medicaid are two different programs. Medicaid may pay for long term care if your dad qualifies. Medicaid rules are complicated and change over time.
Q: Mom can’t take care of Dad at home anymore. To qualify for Medicaid, will they have to sell their house and spend down all their investments?
A: Your parents residence is exempt, so they can keep the house. Depending on the value of their investments, your parents may have to “spend down” some assets. They can spend down “dumb” or they can spend down “smart.” With help from an experienced elder lawyer, they can spend down “smart” or even avoid a spend down entirely.
Q: Will Medicaid take my parents’ house or put a lien on it?
A: No. Medicaid does not put a lien on the house. However, Medicaid may make a claim against your Dad’s estate for payback after he passes away. An experienced elder lawyer may help your parents with legal ways to avoid a claim entirely or at least delay the claim until after your Mom passes away.
Q: Is it legal for Mom and Dad to retitle or transfer their property to me so they will qualify for Medicaid?
A: Actually, it is perfectly legal, but it must be done very carefully, because Medicaid recipients will face a “period of ineligibility” based on the timing and the amount of the gift. There is a 5 year “look back” that applies in ways you may not expect. Don’t try this at home.
Q: Mom and Dad had their wills done years ago. Is there anything else they should do to plan ahead for long term care?
A: Yes. Here is their homework assignment:
- Get a durable power of attorney from an experienced elder lawyer so Mom and Dad can legally sign documents for each other. For transactions to obtain Medicaid eligibility down the road, special provisions are required. A cheap power of attorney from the stationery store may be “legal,” but it may not work.
- Get an advance directive so Mom and Dad can legally make end-of-life health care decisions for each other.
- Consider long term care insurance.
- Plan ahead with an experienced elder lawyer to preserve their assets for their care.
Article Provided by:
Tom Pixton, The Pixton Law Firm