Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Elderly

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Medicaid Planning

Medicaid planning is one of the most important but least understood aspects of elder law. You might have heard of it before and understand that it has something to do with paying for possible long-term care someday, but you still have a lot of questions about how it works. Our elder law attorneys at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP, are here to address all your concerns and guide you through the process. Here are general answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about Medicaid planning.

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federal health insurance program. Unlike Medicare, which is available to everyone age 65 or older, Medicaid is need-based and generally reserved for people whose income and financial resources fall below a certain threshold. However, it is possible to use tools such as trusts to qualify for Medicaid for help affording the high cost of living in an assisted living, nursing home or in-home care – without having to sell your belongings and leaving nothing for your heirs. This is where Medicaid planning comes in.

When should I start Medicaid planning?

Generally, the earlier in life you begin taking advantage of Medicaid planning, the easier it is. However, it is never too late. It is still possible to begin effective Medicaid planning later in life to save money.

What health care services are covered by Medicaid?

Besides nursing home care, Medicaid benefits in New York cover:

  • Doctor visits
  • Immunizations
  • Lab tests and X-rays
  • Hospital stays and emergency medical attention
  • Vision and dental needs, such as eyeglasses and dentures
  • Prescriptions

What assets are considered when determining Medicaid eligibility in New York?

When determining if an applicant qualifies for Medicaid, officials calculate how much the applicant owns in “resources” or assets. While many of your assets are counted, certain things are exempt. In New York state, exempt property includes your primary home and furnishings, vehicle, personal property such as your clothing, and IRAs and 401(k)s in payout mode. These exempt assets do not count against your total wealth, so you do not have to sell or give them away to qualify. The excess of your countable assets can be spent down, transferred to a new owner or placed into trust.

Can I give away assets to qualify for Medicaid?

This is trickier than you might think. Medicaid uses a look-back period of generally five years. Anything you gave as a gift or sold below fair market value in that time period to try to qualify for Medicaid would be counted against you. Also, giving away valuable assets as gifts to your children can trigger expensive taxes for them. For this reason, placing valuable assets in a specially designed trust is often a better option than giving them away to your loved ones.

Get Answers To Your Questions about Medicaid Planning In Westchester

A conversation with one of our Medicaid planning attorneys can help you get your questions answered and put your mind at ease. Contact Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP at our office in White Plains to schedule a legal consultation. Call 914-269-2367 to get started.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP