Today's post in the Hanukkah inspired 8 nights of elder law talks about the dreaded "look back period". The vast majority of the people the I meet with say, "I have heard about a "look back period", but I need care now, so I can't get benefits." This is both true and false. The government will look at any transfers that you have made in the last 5 years, BUT with what we call "crisis Medicaid planning", even someone already in long term care can be made eligible.
The basic principle is that if you make a gift of property or assets any time within 5 years of your Medicaid application, that you are not eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid looks at the total value of the gifts and divides that number by the average monthly cost of a nursing home in your county. The number that results is the number of months that a person cannot receive Medicaid benefits, the "penalty period". Almost any gift that you make that if more than five years out is exempt. We at Mahaffey & Associates highly recommend using a MAP Trust if you are in good health and will most likely not need nursing home care in the next five years. If you need care after five years, your assets are completely protected. However, if you or your loved one are already in a nursing home, then we must do "crisis Medicaid planning"
Medicaid provides a number of exceptions to the look back policy. By meeting with an elder law attorney, a personalized plan can be made that will help get someone qualified for Medicaid while protecting many of their assets. The reality is that any one in crisis Medicaid planning will need to serve some sort of a penalty period so not all of a persons assets will be protected, but hey, would you rather save $50,000 or spend $100,000. Crisis planning is one of the most difficult and complex situations that an elder law attorney faces. If this situation describes your family, please call an Estate Planning Attorney in our office immediately to discuss the options.
Many people that we meet to discuss MAP planning and to a larger extent, crisis planning, are concerned that they won't be able to pick their nursing home or that they will receive sub par care. This is the topic for tomorrows post, and you will be surprised with the answer.