A. Nursing Home Planning and Medicaid Planning is Extremely Complicated

Nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection is an extremely complicated area of the law.  It is further complicated by the fact that there are numerous exceptions to the rules–some of which may be beneficial to you and your family.  Nevertheless, there are rarely easy answers to questions on the topic of Medicaid.  Although the Medicaid process should be the same throughout the state, our office often encounters that some counties may do things differently than other counties.  Because of these complexities, there tend to be very few attorneys that actively practice nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection.  If you desire to engage in any nursing home planning or Medicaid planning to preserve and protect assets, then be certain to hire an attorney that frequently practices in this area of the law.

B.  It is Essential to Hire a Qualified Attorney

At Sturgul & Long, our elder law attorneys spend roughly half of their time engaging in nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection.  To keep abreast of the frequent changes in these laws, the attorneys at Sturgul & Long spend a great deal of time attending and speaking at conferences.  Before retaining an attorney to assist with nursing home and Medicaid planning, the attorneys at Sturgul & Long strongly recommend that you consider hiring an attorney with a proven track record in this area of the law–to do otherwise may end up costing you and your family tens of thousands of dollars.  Therefore, you should be extremely cautious of any general practitioner that holds himself or herself out as someone who can help you with nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection.  The truth is that very few attorneys practice in this area of the law because of its many complexities.

C.  Some Form of Asset Preservation and Protection is Almost Always Possible

Whether you are looking to protect assets well in advance of entry into a nursing home or need immediate assistance, our office is here to assist you.  Our office excels in preparing estate plans with asset protection in mind.  Even if you did not engage in any advance nursing home planning or Medicaid planning, it is still likely that our office can help you with asset protection in a crisis situation.  Generally speaking, the earlier you contact the elder law attorneys at Sturgul & Long the better chance you have at protecting assets for a spouse or other loved one.

D.  Medicare Will Not Pay for a Nursing Facility Indefinitely

Contrary to popular belief, Medicare will not pay for you to reside in a nursing facility indefinitely.  If you are fortunate to receive any Medicare coverage at all for a nursing facility, you will eventually learn that there is a maximum number of days that Medicare will pay for.  After Medicare stops paying for the nursing facility, the individual must either pay the facility at the private pay rate ($8,000.00 a month) or qualify for Medicaid.  The rules revolving around Medicaid qualification tend to be extremely complicated–but some form of Medicaid planning to protect assets is almost always possible.

E.  Exercise Caution When Using Free Resources

There are many free resources available to assist individuals with a Medicaid application.  In a nursing or assisted living facility, there is usually a social worker on staff that can answer basic questions.  Additionally, the county health and human services office may be able to lend some assistance.  Keep in mind, however, that these free resources will not help you with asset protection.  Although they may be able to give you very basic information, they are not attorneys and they will not give you any legal advice.  Generally speaking, these free resources also will not inform you of the various exceptions under the Medicaid laws which may be extremely advantageous to you and your family.  It also is not uncommon for these free resources to give individuals improper advice.  If you have an interest in asset protection, then it is highly recommended that you consult with a qualified elder law attorney that regularly practices nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection.

F.  Do Not Fall Prey to the Medicaid “Spend Down”

More often than not, personnel at the various free resources will say that you cannot apply for Medicaid until you “spend down” your assets on the nursing home.  By engaging in complex nursing home planning and Medicaid planning, it may be possible to entirely avoid spending all of your excess assets on the nursing home.  However, to do so will likely require you to retain a skilled elder law attorney that regularly practices nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection.  Whether you are looking to protect your assets well in advance or you just had a loved one enter a nursing facility, our elder law attorneys at Sturgul & Long are ready, willing, and able to assist you in every way possible.  If you would like to move forward with nursing home planning, Medicaid planning, and asset protection, please contact Sturgul & Long and request a consultation today.