Upstate Elder Law, P.A. assists clients with legal planning for long-term care needs, including revising powers of attorney and health care directives, estate planning measures, and Medicaid eligibility planning. In appropriate cases, we prepare or help prepare and submit Medicaid applications. We customarily handle planning for eligibility, including advice concerning asset transfers, annuities, and other planning techniques; preparation of the Medicaid application; and communication with state agencies.
Individuals who are faced with the need to enter a long-term care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility or who are being provided with similar care at home face the very difficult issue of how to pay for that care.
While some have provided for this need with long-term care insurance and a fortunate few are able to afford their care without other assistance, most people find that long-term care expenses pose the danger of significantly and quickly depleting their life savings. For those who must seek assistance with their long-term care, there are a few forms of governmental assistance available including Medicaid, the South Carolina Optional State Supplementation (OSS) Program, and veteran's benefits.
Medicaid is a program administered by each state that provides medical care for the aged, blind, and disabled. Medicaid can help with nursing home expenses for those who have limited resources and income. For many, it is the only practical alternative to paying for their care in a nursing home. Congress has recognized this and has added provisions to the Social Security law to make nursing home Medicaid available to many middle class families. Contrary to popular belief, the typical Medicaid client is neither indigent nor very wealthy, but is generally a person of middle class means - a home, a car, and a modest amount of financial assets.
There are many concerns that lead to Medicaid planning. Most clients who engage in Medicaid planning either cannot afford long-term care insurance or cannot obtain it because of age or poor health. Married clients often have the added concern of needing to preserve assets to support a spouse who also can no longer work. Others wish to preserve assets they have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work in order to pass them on to their children.
There are many strategies available to preserve assets, and the options are often complicated and varied. In early 2006, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which limited some of the planning options previously available. Selecting the best strategy is an individual decision that depends on many factors. Families should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the state laws concerning Medicaid in order to choose the most promising strategy.
Clients should also understand that there are often limits to the value of assets which can be protected and that the practical difficulties involved in some strategies may be severe.
**Although Upstate Elder Law, P.A. sometimes discusses planning options in connection with veteran's benefits with clients, attorneys are essentially precluded from handling the veteran's benefits claims process for veterans and their families. Rather, these persons must seek assistance from veteran's organizations or the county veteran's office to file a claim for benefits.