Planning When Long-Term Care or a Nursing Home is Imminent
We can help when a family member or close relative of yours needs long-term care benefits, either in their own home or in a nursing home care facility. Whether due to dementia, broken hip, a fall or failing to properly care for themselves, we give you the information to decide on the best way to plan for their care, preserve assets and minimize taxes. In accordance with Massachusetts laws and regulations, as well as the Internal Revenue Code our Massachusetts elder law firm can help you develop a plan to pay for long-term care, including MassHealth eligibility and completing the MassHealth application for nursing home and community benefits. Our experienced attorneys can help so that the financial resources needed for an individual or spouse will be there for them. Our elder law practice works closely with other professionals, such as geriatric care managers, accountants, and financial planners to address these complex issues in a thoughtful manner.
Need for Planning Well in Advance for Elder Care
The best legal and financial planning advice for elder care issues occurs well in advance of when long-term care, such as assisted living and nursing home care, is needed. Nursing home care in Massachusetts averages between $90,000 and $130,000 a year. While Medicare and supplemental insurance may cover most of the medical expenses of an acute illness, they provide little or no coverage for nursing home care. If you are retired or are near retirement age, we offer you strategies including irrevocable trusts for planning for your future, incorporating elder law, probate concerns and issues. Because, it is best to plan for long-term care and MassHealth issues is well in advance of when they are needed.
Is Your Loved One Eligible for MassHealth?
To qualify for nursing home care paid for by MassHealth, a single person cannot own more than $2,000 in “countable assets.” When a couple is involved, they cannot own more than $123,600 (2018 figures and adjusted annually). * Please note that the family home does not necessarily have to be sold to qualify for MassHealth. It is also possible to retain substantial and transfer certain assets and still qualify for MassHealth.
Should an Attorney or a Medicaid Application Service Company Assist with a MassHealth Longterm Care Application for Nursing Home?
The best advice is to learn you options as soon as someone is admitted or discharged to a rehabilitation facility or nursing home and develop a plan to spend down any assets to meet the MassHealth eligibility requirements, if necessary. Medicaid Application services are not authorized to practice law and often do not work for the applicant; instead these providers are often contracted by nursing facilities. It is often more beneficial to have your situation reviewed by an experienced elder attorney whose duty is to the client. One of the most common things said during our initial consultations is “I was never told I had those options.”
Treatment of Income
Once your relative has qualified for MassHealth, the nursing home resident must pay for nursing home care out of his or her own income. Sometimes, the income of the nursing home resident can be kept for the spouse who is still living in the home.
MassHealth, Transfers & the 5-Year Look Back Period
Under what is often referred to as the “5 year look back rule,” MassHealth may review all financial records for five years prior to filing an application for MassHealth. If you have transferred your home for less than fair market value to individuals or an irrevocable trust, assisted with college tuition payments for a grandchild or made other transfers during this time, you may be ineligible for MassHealth. This period of MassHealth ineligibility results, even though you meet the other guidelines established. If you intend to make transfers of your property to someone else or a trust, consult an Elder Law Attorney to determine the future ramifications of the transfer.