Medicaid is a very complicated and confusing area of law. Hardly a day goes by where someone does not walk into our office assuming that they cannot do anything to protect their assets from the Medicaid rules and nursing home expenses. These clients are astonished to learn that the Medicaid rules actually provide a number of legal strategies to protect a person’s assets. Consider the following example of Medicaid planning for a single person:
Recently, John came into our office seeking help for his 84 year old father who had entered a nursing home after suffering from a severe stroke. His father was a widower who had retired from General Motors and had lived in the same Flint home for almost 60 years. His assets consisted of his Flint home, one vehicle and $75,000 in checking and savings accounts. Like many clients, John was concerned that his father would have to spend all but $2,000 of his assets to pay for his nursing home care. He was surprised and relieved to learn that the Medicaid rules allow him to save some of his father’s hard earned money. Here are just a few of the Medicaid planning options:
1. Prepay his funeral expenses. Under the Medicaid rules prepaid funerals are an exempt asset.
2. Pay for home repairs. Because the home is an exempt asset, it is permissible to use money to pay for repairs on the home under the Medicaid rules.
3. Pay for burial space items for family. The Medicaid rules allow for the purchase of burial space items for children and their spouses without incurring a penalty. Burial space items include the burial plot, casket, vault and headstones.
It is important to remember that Medicaid planning is very fact-specific and not all of the strategies are advisable in every situation. Before spending down your assets, be sure to consult with an experienced elder law attorney.