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White Plains Medicaid Benefits Attorneys

The Westchester County attorneys at Giannasca & Shook can employ different Medicaid Planning strategies to preserve your assets while assisting you in becoming eligible for Medicaid Benefits to pay for Long Term Care.

Many seniors recognize the importance of implementing traditional estate planning techniques such as having a will or revocable trust, executing a durable power of attorney and preparing advance health care directives.   But often overlooked is the importance of Medicaid Planning for long-term care (LTC) in a nursing home.  With the average cost of private nursing home care in Westchester County being roughly $12,000 per month,  without proper planning a mere two year period of private pay nursing home care will deplete the assets you could otherwise leave to your family by nearly $300,000.  And contrary to what many people mistakenly believe, Medicare benefits (not to be confused with Medicaid benefits) do not cover the cost of LTC.

The preferred method of advance planning for LTC is obtaining long-term care insurance (LTCI).  Obtaining the right LTCI policy not only covers the cost of nursing home care if required, but also provides the added benefit of paying for “in-home” care which may allow you live in your home for a longer period of time.  But often time seniors are turned down for LTCI due to age or illness, or the premium for LTCI is cost prohibitive.

As a result, without implementing other advance planning strategies seniors and their loved ones often find themselves in “crisis” attempting to salvage assets while at the same time qualifying for Medicaid to cover the costs of LTC in a nursing home.  This is often referred to as “crisis planning” as contrasted with “advance planning”.  And although a portion of the senior’s assets may be protected through “crisis planning” techniques, it is no substitute for proper “advance planning” which can protect all of the senior’s assets.

Unlike Medicare which is an entitlement program and does not cover LTC, Medicaid is a “needs based” program and does cover LTC if you qualify. In order to qualify for Medicaid there are certain “resource” and “income” allowances that cannot be exceeded. Although certain assets and income are considered exempt for Medicaid eligibility under specifically defined circumstances, generally a single or widowed individual is allowed to keep only $14,850 in resources and $845 in monthly income to be eligible for Medicaid. In the case of a Medicaid applicant that is married, the spouse of the Medicaid applicant living in the “community” is entitled to a “community spouse allowance” of between $74,820 and $119,220 in resources and $2,980.50 in monthly income. If the applicable “resource allowance” is exceeded, the Medicaid applicant must “spend down” their own assets on LTC before becoming eligible for Medicaid.  Similarly, any income in excess of the “income allowance” must first be applied to LTC before Medicaid will pay for LTC. It is important to understand that when applying for Medicaid the assets and income of the applicant and their spouse are viewed collectively for eligibility. Also, transferring or “gifting” assets out of the seniors name on the eve of requiring nursing home care is not a sound plan because under applicable Medicaid laws there is a 5 year look-back period.  Any assets transferred out of the Medicaid applicant’s name without fair consideration during the “look-back period” will impose a penalty period during which Medicaid will not pay for LTC. The Medicaid rules are complex and subject to constant change. Therefore, it is important to engage a knowledgeable Elder Law attorney to assist you to become eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Whether as part of your overall Estate Plan or implemented during a time of crisis, the New York Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys at Giannasca & Shook can implement a sound strategy to make you eligible for Medicaid benefits to pay for long term care while protecting certain assets.  Through exempt transfers, trusts, annuities, pooled trusts, promissory notes and other strategies we utilize our knowledge of the New York Medicaid eligibility rules to fashion a sound Medicaid plan for you.  We will also assist you with preparing and submitting your Medicaid application and represent you through the review and approval process.  In the event a fair hearing is required, our attorneys will represent you to make sure you receive the Medicaid benefits you are entitled to.

Ask our attorneys about planning for Medicaid eligibility in White Plains, NY

Giannasca & Shook, PLLC helps seniors secure nursing home assistance through Medicaid eligibility planning. An experienced estate planning lawyer with our firm can answer your questions about irrevocable trusts.  To schedule a free consultation, call 914-872-6000 or contact our office online.