Can’t I Just Give Away My Assets and Qualify for Medicaid Benefits?
For many people, there comes a time when it becomes important to qualify for Medicaid. Qualifying for Medicaid becomes necessary because you may need Medicaid to pay for the costs of nursing home care or for the costs of long-term care at home. Neither long-term care at home nor nursing home care is typically covered by Medicare or by private insurance, except in very limited cases where you require skilled nursing care. Outside of these circumstances, unless you have purchased good long-term care insurance or unless you are able to qualify for Medicaid coverage, you cannot get your nursing home care or long-term care paid for and will have to pay privately.
One of the issues when you try to qualify for Medicaid is that Medicaid benefits are means-tested. If you have too many financial resources, you cannot get Medicaid to cover you. You would essentially have to impoverish yourself in order to become poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid. This means losing the chance to leave your legacy.
Most people do not want to spend all of their money on nursing home care and look for ways to avoid this when it comes time to pay for care. One option you may be considering is just giving away your wealth. Unfortunately, this is not a viable solution — you can’t just give away your money or property and you could make yourself ineligible for Medicaid for a long time if you try to do so. Zimmer Law Firm can provide insight into the problems with giving away wealth and can help you to come up with a viable Medicaid plan that ensures you are actually able to get the care that you require.
Why You Can’t Just Give Away Assets to Qualify for Medicaid
If you are being prevented from getting Medicaid benefits because you own money or property, it may seem like a good idea to just give your assets to your children or other family members so you are poor enough to get Medicaid to cover the costs of your care. The big problem with this, however, is that Medicaid has a five year lookback rule.
Because of the five year lookback rule, Medicaid will look at your financial transactions over the course of the past five years. If it is discovered that you gave away wealth or transferred property for less than fair market value– such as selling your expensive house to your kids for $10 — then you could find yourself in a situation where you face temporary disqualification.
Under the five year lookback rule, you are ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time after giving away wealth. The time period of your ineligibility is determined based on a formula that gives you the number of months of disqualification. To determine how long you are disqualified from getting Medicaid to cover you, divide the value of your transferred assets by the average monthly cost of nursing home care in your area. So, if you gave away $20,000 and the average monthly cost of a nursing home was $5,000, you’d be disqualified from getting Medicaid benefits for a period of four months because $20,000 divided by $5,000 equals four.
You do not want to end up being unable to get Medicaid to pay for the costs of the care you need, so you can’t make mistakes such as just giving away assets. To ensure you avoid disqualifying errors in the Medicaid planning process, you should reach out to a Medicaid planning attorney.
Getting Help from a Medicaid Planning Attorney
A Medicaid planning attorney at Zimmer Law Firm will work closely with you to understand the options you have available to you for protecting your assets when you try to qualify for Medicaid coverage. You should take action as early as possible in making a Medicaid plan because the sooner you act, the more of your assets you are typically going to be able to protect. However, even in a crisis when care is needed imminently, Zimmer Law Firm can often help you to keep the maximum value of assets possible safe from being lost.
To find out more about the assistance our legal team can offer you when it comes to the Medicaid planning process, join us for a free seminar today. You can also give us a call at 513-721-1513 or contact us online at any time.