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Medicaid & Long-Term Care

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Medicaid Eligibility

Choosing the Right Nursing Home Planning Attorney Can Save You Thousands of Dollars in Long-Term Care Costs

Even if your loved one has just been admitted to a long-term care facility and no planning has been done, it is not too late.  However, having the right nursing home planning attorney or asset protection attorney is critical. Sturgul & Long, S.C. has saved individual clients tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, with its proven plans for successful Medicaid planning, nursing home planning, and asset protection.

Think about it: the average monthly cost of a nursing home in Wisconsin is $9,228.  That means the average annual cost of a nursing home in Wisconsin is $110,736.  Michigan is only marginally better.  For many, that is the cost of a home.  If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, you simply cannot afford to do nothing.  If you do nothing, then you will see the life savings of you or a loved one rapidly disappear.  There is a significant difference in the assets that people preserve when they have a competent nursing home planning attorney or asset protection attorney on their side.

Our Medicaid Planning, Nursing Home Planning, and Asset Protection Planning Process

1. Schedule an Initial Consultation

Our interaction will start when you call our office to schedule an initial consultation.  We can conduct the initial consultation in person at one of our many office locations, virtually via Zoom, or via telephone.  Prior to the initial consultation, we will give you a complete list of things to bring to this appointment.  Because we want to help you minimize long-term care costs as soon as possible, we will schedule this initial consultation at your earliest convenience.

2. Initial Consultation

Our initial consultations for Medicaid and long-term care usually last around ninety minutes.  The attorney will review the applicable Medicaid rules with you to ensure that you understand them.  Additionally, the attorney will review the assets of the Medicaid applicant (and, if applicable, his or her spouse) and then propose a plan to preserve as many assets as possible.  To have a productive initial consultation, it is extremely important that you come prepared–which means bringing all relevant documents as instructed by our office.  We will quote you a flat fee for an asset protection plan at this time–this flat fee will cover the initial application from start to finish.

3. Develop and Put in Place the Asset Protection Plan

Once you have retained our office, we will finalize an asset protection plan.  We will walk you through the entire process step-by-step.  We will give you specific instructions of what assets to liquidate, what assets to transfer to third-parties, and what to pay the long-term care facility. 

4. Apply for Medicaid

After we have developed and put in place an asset protection plan, then we will formally submit a Medicaid application on your behalf–the only thing you have to do is sign off on it.  We will handle any and all communication and correspondence with the Medicaid authorities.  Our office will be involved during this process until the Medicaid authorities complete their review of the Medicaid application.

5. Wrap-Up Meeting

Once we have secured approval of the Medicaid application and assisted in the preservation of assets, we will have a final meeting with you to wrap up everything and tie up any loose ends.  If you are married, we may strongly recommend that you revise your estate plan accordingly.  We will also make certain that you understand how the annual recertifications for Medicaid work.

Do Not Make Long-Term Care Decisions Without Competent Advice from the Right Nursing Home Planning Attorney

Many people make the mistake of never seeking competent professional advice when their loved one enters a long-term care facility.  In fact, many people only seek the advice of the social worker at the nursing home–and guess what kind of advice you are going to get from the social worker that is employed by the nursing home?  Presumably the nursing home would prefer that you pay privately as long as possible, so that social worker is not likely to help you preserve any assets.

Unfortunately, our attorneys often see people after they have needlessly paid for long-term care longer than necessary.  Had many such individuals met with us sooner, we could have saved more assets for most of them.  It is also important to understand that not every attorney focuses his or her practice in elder law–in fact, very few do.  If your lawyer is not providing you with any asset protection options, then it is most likely the case that the attorney is not an elder law attorney.

Please take some time to read some of the information below to further educate yourself on Medicaid and long-term care planning.

Medicaid and Long-Term Care Planning is Extremely Complicated

Medicaid planning, long-term care 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 Medicaid and long-term care planning to preserve and protect assets, then be certain to hire an attorney that frequently practices in this area of the law.

It is Essential to Hire a Qualified Attorney

At Sturgul & Long, S.C., our elder law attorneys spend roughly half of their time engaging in Medicaid planning, long-term care planning, and asset protection.  To keep abreast of the frequent changes in these laws, the attorneys at Sturgul & Long, S.C. spend a great deal of time attending and speaking at conferences.  Before retaining an attorney to assist with Medicaid planning and long-term care planning, the attorneys at Sturgul & Long, S.C. 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, or more.  Therefore, you should be extremely cautious of any general practitioner that holds himself or herself out as someone who can help you with Medicaid planning, long-term care planning, and asset protection.  The truth is that very few attorneys practice in this area of the law because of its many complexities.

Some Form of Asset 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 Medicaid planning or long-term care 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, S.C., the better chance you have at protecting assets for a spouse or other loved one.

Medicare Will Not Pay for a Nursing Home Indefinitely

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

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–in fact they have an incentive to ensure that you pay privately as long as possible.  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.

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 Medicaid planning and long-term care 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 if you just had a loved one enter a nursing facility, our elder law attorneys at Sturgul & Long, S.C. 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, S.C. and request a consultation today.

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