The VA, Veterans organizations, financial planners, and elder law attorneys all offer help in qualifying for VA benefits. Who a client should use depends on circumstances.
Who can use a non-legal entity to help with VA and Medicaid Planning? Any Veteran or Widow(er) whose monthly income is lower than their monthly expenses and do not own assets greater than VA and Medicaid allow. We also find that financial planning companies can be helpful if the applicant has a little more cash then allowed by the VA or Medicaid.
Who should use an Attorney for help with VA and Medicaid Planning? Any Veteran or Widow(er) whose monthly income is greater than their care expenses and/or has assets like a home, retirement plan, savings, stocks or bonds that the applicant wants to keep in the current financial holding and not cash out.
What benefits do an Elder Care Attorney provide? Attorneys can draft legal documents to hold the excess assets. Others applying for VA and Medicaid on behalf of clients lack these tools.
What are the consequences of bad VA or Medicaid Planning? Assets that are not transferred according to the VA and Medicaid guidelines will make an applicant ineligible for the benefit and potentially cause a repayment of benefits. We had one client who had a trust drafted by a nonlawyer. The trust did not contain the necessary provisions. Due to the mistakes in the trust, the client was not eligible for VA and the clock on the Medicaid five year lookback never started. He now has to pay the $183.00/day for nursing home care until he is eligible for Medicaid and may be required to pay back over $80,000.00 in VA Pension benefits he was technically not eligible for at the time of the application due the erroneously language in the Trust that did not properly transfer assets.
How to prevent bad VA and Medicaid Planning? Get educated! Ask your current VA/Medicaid planning contact how they work; more specifically ask for them to give you and your staff an educational seminar.