Many Americans rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program that provides health insurance and other benefits to low income and disabled individuals, to fund part or all of their long term care needs. For these individuals, Medicaid planning is an important part of estate planning. If you are considering using Medicaid to fund your long term care, discuss your plan with your estate planning lawyer. He or she can help you determine if you qualify for Medicaid and educate you about the facts of using Medicaid to fund your care.
Are you Eligible for Medicaid?
First and foremost, you need to determine if you are even eligible to receive Medicaid coverage. The Florida Department of Children and Families determines an individual’s Medicaid eligibility by examining his or her assets and income. In Florida, an individual’s monthly gross income must be $2,205 or less and he or she must own less than $2,000 worth of assets as a single person or $120,900 jointly with a healthy spouse in order to qualify for Medicaid.
Protecting your Assets As you Plan for your Future
Any estate plan should be created to protect the individual’s assets from excessive taxes and penalties. If your assets render you ineligible for Medicaid coverage, work with your lawyer to determine your alternative options. You might opt to purchase an annuity, which converts existing funds to a monthly income source for your spouse who does not receive Medicaid, as a way to keep your money without it disqualifying you from receiving Medicaid coverage for your long term care. Another option is to provide monetary gifts to loved ones, which are not subject to gift taxes as long as you give less than $14,000 per year this way.
Separate the Medicaid Myths from the Facts
Your lawyer can break down any misconceptions you have about Medicaid, such as the myth that it is only for individuals who have no assets. You certainly can qualify for Medicaid if you have assets, and certain assets are not considered when determining your eligibility.
Many individuals also wrongly assume that it is possible to become eligible for Medicaid by transferring one’s assets to his or her loved ones. Although asset transfers can potentially be part of a long-term estate plan, they need to be utilized carefully. When an individual applies for Medicaid coverage, Medicaid representatives examine all of the transactions the individual made in the past five years. If certain assets were transferred without the individual receiving fair compensation, he or she could face penalties.
Work with an Experienced Winter Park Medicaid Planning Lawyer
For help with any aspect of estate planning, whether you are eligible for Medicaid or not, work with an experienced Winter Park estate planning lawyer who can be your advocate through the process. Contact The Law Offices of Aubrey Harry Ducker, Jr., PLLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office, during which we can answer any questions you have and determine any issues that you need to resolve before you move forward in the estate planning process.