Medicaid planning can end up being incredibly costly without proper legal counsel. Two recent cases from my law practice illustrate some of the risks of Do-It-Yourself Medicaid and VA benefits planning.
In one case, a woman consulted me about Medicaid planning for her parents. After we began work, the woman – who was the Power of Attorney Agent – revealed that her brother had already filed an application for Veterans Administration Aid and Attendants benefits to assist with nursing care costs. However, the application was doomed from the start. In this case, the parents were ineligible for benefits because the value of their assets (their wealth) exceeded the limit that would allow them to qualify.
If the family had talked to me before filing the VA benefits application, some straightforward planning would have put the parents on track to receive over $2200 a month for help with nursing care costs. Because they insisted on Do-It-Yourself planning, those benefits became unavailable for at least a year, and perhaps forever.
The second case involves a family who secured Medicaid benefits for their mother in Kentucky. They needed to move her to a nursing facility in Ohio, so they also had to re-apply for Medicaid.
One of the children handled the new application on her own, without legal assistance. The Ohio Medicaid case worker required the family to change ownership of mom’s house, contrary to federal and state law. Since the woman’s death, the State wants the family to sell the house to repay the nursing home benefits that their mom had received. .
If the family had employed a lawyer who understood Medicaid, they could have secured Medicaid benefits without putting the house at risk. Now the family is faced with paying thousands of dollars to the State that would otherwise have been unnecessary. To make matters worse, a child who has lived in the house for over a decade will lose his home.
These are hard lessons for the families involved, which is unfortunate. These results were avoidable. Others can learn from these missteps, which happen all too often. In the areas of Medicaid and VA benefits, consulting legal counsel is well worth the time, effort, and expense. Whatever the cost for legal assistance, the returns are many times greater.