As the population ages, the need for long term care increases. Many families are concerned that the cost of long term care will completely exhaust their loved ones savings. Elder law planning is designed to provide protection from the costs of long term care, and ensure that seniors will retain sufficient money to live out their lives in the manner they are accustomed.
Nursing home Medicaid is a Federal program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health that pays for nursing home care for those who show a medical need for such care. Along with showing the need for nursing home care, an applicant for nursing home Medicaid must meet asset and income tests to receive nursing home Medicaid. The asset test for nursing home Medicaid is stringent and requires that those seeking to receive nursing home Medicaid have a very limited amount of assets that are not exempt from counting towards Medicaid qualification. Assets that are not exempt, and thus can count towards Medicaid qualification, include cash, savings accounts, checking accounts, CD’s, stocks, bonds, and many other investments. An applicant for nursing home Medicaid who is not married can have no more than $2,000 in countable assets to qualify for Medicaid.
Along with the reduction of countable assets for qualification for nursing home Medicaid, an applicant must also consider the claims that Medicaid can make on the applicant’s assets on the death of the recipient of nursing home Medicaid. The Georgia Department of Community Health has a claim against the estate of the deceased Medicaid applicant’s estate for the value of the medical care received by the nursing home Medicaid recipient. This is known as estate recovery, and can result in losing the entire estate.
An experienced elder law attorney can assist in planning both to ensure that nursing home Medicaid is available as soon as possible, and that there is little to no estate recovery on the death of the nursing home Medicaid recipient. There are methods of protecting the estate of the nursing home Medicaid recipient from estate recovery. One of these methods is known as the caregiver child exception. This exception allows the Medicaid applicant or recipient to transfer their house without penalty to one of their children, if that child lived with the recipient for at least two years before the recipient moved into a nursing home and the child provided care such that the Medicaid applicant was able to delay a nursing home admission for at least two years. This is one of many techniques that can be used to protect assets. As protecting assets from long term care costs is a complex, fact driven determination, it is recommended that those needing to plan for their own long term care or care for a loved one, seek the services of an experienced elder law attorney.