Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa Medicaid Planning Attorneys
Medicaid planning is the legal rearrangement or transfer of assets owned by a person in a way that will allow for that person to qualify for Medicaid benefits that will pay for nursing home care. The average cost of nursing home care in Florida is over $9,000 per month. Many people need nursing home care, but cannot afford the expensive nursing home payments. Some people want to protect their assets from nursing home costs so that they will be able to transfer their assets to loved ones. We can help you take the legal steps necessary to arrange income and assets so that you or a loved one may be accepted into Florida’s Medicaid program to pay for nursing home costs when you apply.
Why would a person want Medicaid to pay for his or her nursing home?
There are two main reasons a person would want to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits. First, some people simply cannot afford to pay for nursing home care. For example, a person may receive $5,000 per month in income and does not have a large savings. Nursing home care costs can average over $9,000 per month. Therefore, if a person only makes $5,000 a month in income, that person cannot pay the $9,000 per month for nursing home care. A Medicaid planning attorney can help the person legally lower his or her income below the acceptable amount to qualify for Medicaid, and therefore will allow for the person to have Medicaid assist in making up the difference to pay for nursing home care.
Second, some people have more substantial assets, but do not want to deplete their assets to pay for a nursing home. In these cases, a Medicaid planning attorney can help the Medicaid applicant legally transfer assets from the applicant’s ownership to another person, while not invoking the Medicaid gifting penalties. Typically the techniques used to transfer assets include a personal services contract or transfers from countable assets to non-countable or exempt assets. In these cases, a Medicaid planning attorney may not be able to protect all of of the applicants assets from payment to the nursing home, but may be able to protect a substantial amount that would otherwise be paid to the nursing home.
What techniques are used to allow someone to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits?
We use a number of different techniques that are allowed under Florida law and under Florida Medicaid policy. All of the techniques used by our attorneys are legal and generally accepted by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the agency that administers Medicaid in Florida, to allow an applicant to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits. These techniques include:
- Qualified Income Trust (QIT) – A qualified income trust is used when a Medicaid applicant does not qualify for Medicaid because he or she receives too much income every month. A qualified income trust is a type of trust that receives excess income over the amount allowed by Medicaid from a Medicaid applicant and then pays that income to the nursing home.
- Enhanced Life Estate Deed (Ladybird Deed) – This is a type of deed that allows property to be automatically transferred if the owner of the property owns the property at the time of his or her death. These deeds are used to avoid probate. If an applicant’s assets go through probate, the decedent’s assets may be subject to Medicaid reimbursement from the non-exempt probate estate.
- Personal Services Contract – This is a contract that is used by a Medicaid applicant to pay a loved one for care and support while that person is in a nursing home. These contracts help to transfer countable assets from the Medicaid applicant. It is important to remember that a personal services contracts result in taxable income to the person receiving payment from the Medicaid applicant.
- Purchase of exempt or non-countable assets – Under Florida Medicaid law and regulations, certain assets owned by a Medicaid applicant are either exempt from being counted in an application for Medicaid or are not counted towards the applicant’s asset amount. An applicant can qualify for Medicaid benefits through transferring his or her assets from countable assets to non-countable or exempt assets.
What are the requirements to allow for someone to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits?
In 2019, to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits in Florida, a person cannot receive more than $2,313 in income per month. Additionally, a person applying for Medicaid cannot own more than $2,000 in countable assets. The spouse of a Medicaid applicant may have up to $126,420 in assets. It is important to note that the applicant or spouse’s home will not count as long as it does not exceed $585,000 in value, and often vehicles are exempt as well.
If you like to see the current detailed financial eligibility standards click here.
An experienced Medicaid planning attorney is important for any plan to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits.
If you or a loved one are in need of nursing home care in the near future, we can still help you make the changes necessary to qualify for Medicaid’s asset and income test. It is extremely important that you use an experienced Medicaid planning attorney to allow for you or your loved one to qualify for Medicaid benefits. An attorney or service that does not have experience with Medicaid planning may cause adverse tax consequences or may cause the Medicaid applicant to pay more to the nursing home than he or she is required. Our attorneys will provide you with a detailed plan and legal documents that will allow for you or your loved one to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits. We generally do not complete the application for Medicaid, but under federal law, you may use either a person or Medicaid application service of your choice to assist with the application. If you do not have a service who can complete the application, we can recommend a Medicaid application service to you.
If either you or a loved one are concerned about paying for nursing home costs, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys today. The sooner that you are able to start planning, the more likely that either you or a loved one will be able to qualify for Medicaid when you need it.