Kathy L. McNair, Esq.
Why Planning Ahead for Medicaid is Important
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Are you worried about the high cost of long term care? More than 40 percent of people who reach age 65 will need nursing home care. In the Boston, Massachusetts area, nursing home care costs about $13,000 per month or more. With an average stay of two and a half years, it can cost over $300,000. Lots of people won't be able to pay for this or may lose their life savings doing so. Medicaid (called "MassHealth" in MA) benefits can cover nursing home costs and even provide help to keep you at home, but to qualify you have to meet strict financial criteria.
WHEN SHOULD YOU START THINKING ABOUT MEDICAID PLANNING? Medicaid planning at least five years before you need care provides you with the best opportunity to protect your hard earned savings. The average age of entering a nursing home is 79. We recommend that you start thinking about Medicaid planning around the age of 70, unless you have concerns that your or your spouse's health may decline sooner.
IS THERE A LIMIT ON HOW MUCH MONEY I CAN HAVE AND STILL PROTECT ASSETS?
Each situation is different. In the Boston, Massachusetts area, many people own houses that have appreciated significantly over time or own a vacation property, but they may have more modest assets in the bank or retirement accounts. Often, people in this situation are the ideal candidates for Medicaid planning.
If you have several million dollars in addition to your home, Medicaid planning may not work for you. Since, Massachusetts imposes an estate tax on estates over $1 million dollars, it may be better to focus on estate planning than Medicaid planning. If it is on your mind, then it is important to consult with an elder law attorney to determine what is best.
WHY IS PLANNING AHEAD SO IMPORTANT? Waiting on Medicaid planning until care is actually needed, especially for single people, leaves you with limited options to protect your assets. Medicaid carefully reviews your finances and any gifts made over the past five years. Therefore, when you already need care, it is too late to protect assets.
Medicaid planning gives you a roadmap of specific steps that you can take to protect your assets. It gives you peace of mind, so that if your health declines in the future, you won't be in a panic to do last minute planning. Medicaid planning also helps you to know the rules, and take them into consideration before making big decisions in your life about gifts, property transfers, or moving in with your children.
WHY A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MEDICAID PLANNING CAN BE RISKY? There is no one size fits all approach with Medicaid Planning. A little knowledge about Medicaid planning can be a dangerous thing. Don't rely on the advice of a friend, neighbor, or even another attorney who is not experienced in the area of elder law. Medicaid Planning is unique to each case. The guidance of an experienced elder law attorney is critical to avoid pitfalls, especially when dealing with transfers of real estate and tax consequences. If you try to do it yourself you may save a few thousand dollars up front, but lose much more in the end. At our office, we analyze each person's unique financial picture and family dynamics to make recommendations that work for you.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN FINDING OUR MORE ABOUT MEDICAID PLANNING: To find out if Medicaid Planning is right for you, please contact our office. Senior Solutions, Attorneys at Law, is an Elder Law and Estate Planning law firm, serving the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area, since 2001. We are ready to help you plan. Take the first step and contact us in any of the following ways: Phone: 617-489-5900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or use this link to set up a free consultation: https://seniorsolutions.as.me/FreeConsult.