ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Common Errors in Long-term Care Planning

The elder law attorneys at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. assist seniors and disabled persons and their family members in applying for Medicaid assistance. We frequently observe the following planning errors that people make when applying for Medicaid:

Medicaid Myths.

Relying on information from family members or friends. Medicaid is a state program funded in part by the federal government. Each state has its own Medicaid rules and regulations; there are 51 Medicaid programs when you include the District of Columbia. Seniors, disabled persons and their families should consult with an experienced elder law attorney familiar with the Medicaid program in the state in which the Medicaid application is to be filed.

Thinking it's too late to plan.

It is never too late to plan. It is possible to begin planning even after the senior or disabled person has entered a nursing home. With proper planning it is possible to protect much of the senior's or disabled person's assets.

Giving away assets too early.

These assets belong to the senior or disable person. Don't put the senior or disabled person at risk by making premature gifts to family members. Premature gifts can also result in tax and Medicaid problems, particularly with the changes in the law resulting from the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA).

Ignoring exempt transfers.

Some transfers do not result in periods of Medicaid ineligibility. These transfers include transfers to disabled children, minor children, caretaker children, siblings, d(4)(A) trusts for disabled persons under the age of 65, and d(4)(C) pooled trusts for disabled persons of any age.

Failing to take advantage of spousal protections.

These protections include maximizing the Community Spouse Resource Allowance by increasing countable resources prior to the "snapshot" date, and by purchasing exempt resources, such as a motor vehicle, home, or prepaid burial, or by converting countable resources to income.

Applying for Medicaid too early.

As a result of the DRA, applying for Medicaid within five years of making a gift can result in a period of ineligibility that will start not when the gift is made, but when the senior or disabled person is in the nursing home with no funds available to pay for his or her care.

Applying for Medicaid too late.

Applying for Medicaid too late can result in spending funds that could have been protected by proper planning.

Failing to keep good records.

This has become a critical issue in light of the DRA. An experienced Medicaid eligibility worker will examine thoroughly all Medicaid applications. The applicant should retain records to support all items listed on the application, document the applicant's assets as of the date of entry into the nursing home, and verify the disposition of the applicant's assets for the five years period prior to the filing of the application.

Not getting expert help.

Medicaid asset protection planning is complicated. Most people will require this planning only once during their lives. Because a great deal is at stake, it is wise to consult an experienced elder law attorney when nursing home care is necessary. The attorney's fees are an investment, not an expense.

The attorneys at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. are experienced in long-term care planning, and are available to assist clients with these critical issues.


If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
Virginia (703) 243-3200
Washington DC (202) 223-0270

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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