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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

Do you have long-term care plans for a disabled loved one?

If you have a developmentally disabled child or sibling, you probably provide quite a bit of support to help them live a healthy, fulfilling life. It may not be pleasant to think about, but you need to plan for a future where they still require services but you are not there to take care of them.

Even if you have already taken the step of adding them to your last will or creating a special needs trust to help them in the future, you may need to start planning now for the services they will likely need when they get older.

Long-term care services, either in a nursing home facility or in your family home, are common benefits required by the severely disabled. Thankfully, there are special Medicaid programs in place that can help your family plan for and connect with those benefits in the future.

Special waivers can help your loved one qualify for benefits

Unlike Medicare, which is accessible to adults over a certain age, Medicaid has strident restrictions in place intended to limit the pool of people who can claim benefits through the program. Medicaid is specifically available for those with few financial assets and low levels of income. However, even those who don't meet the income or asset requirements can still qualify for Medicaid under special waiver programs offered in New York.

For example, the New York Long-Term Home Health Care Program offers a waiver that allows individuals to qualify for Medicaid for in-home health care services provided that they could qualify for residential care because of their medical condition. There are other waiver programs as well that can make sure that your loved one connects with the state benefits they will require in the absence of you or another family member to provide for them.

Be careful about how you structure your assets to protect disabled loved ones

A lump-sum inheritance can be a dangerous gift to give to someone who needs state services. A large inheritance could very well preclude your family member from obtaining or retaining Medicaid benefits for up to five years after the inheritance.

The amount that you set aside for them could wind up going to repay the government for medical benefits that they need to survive, instead of hoping to enrich their lives or improve their quality of life. If you have already created a special needs trust, that is a very important step toward protecting the assets you want to leave behind for your loved one.

However, there may be other options available to you and your loved one that you would be remiss not to explore while creating a long-term care plan for the developmentally disabled person in your life.

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