If there’s any way that you can afford to pay for your own long-term care instead of relying on Medicaid, you should pursue that option. Medicaid cannot withstand the burden of having wealthy Americans using it to try and hide assets for their relatives when they could have easily purchased long-term care insurance at an earlier time. However, if you have truly limited assets, there are some steps you should properly take to protect certain limited aspects of your estate. Just be sure to first meet with your Peachtree City estate planning attorney so you won’t violate any pertinent federal or Georgia state laws. If you do violate such laws, you can be sure the government will later contact you and request full reimbursement.
Here are some basic facts to keep in mind when trying to legally protect some assets if you’re honestly going to need Medicaid assistance to pay for your long-term care.
Important Facts to Remember When Trying to Protect Assets from Medicaid
- Your home is normally exempt if it’s held in your name or your spouse’s -- and one of you still lives in the home;
- You must be very careful about trying to transfer your home to anyone, except in strict compliance with all federal and state laws. There’s normally a five-year “look-back” period which can invalidate a gift made during that time period by someone trying to illegally qualify for Medicaid help;
- The giving away of some assets is normally protected – including the gift of a car and a variety of household goods. However, before giving away any of these assets, check with your attorney. If you give away the wrong types of items – or some that have a very high market value, Medicaid might later argue that the items could have been sold and used to produce income that might have helped cover part of the giver’s future medical expenses;
- Some special gifts can be made to your spouse during the five years preceding your request for Medicaid coverage. However, those gifts which can be made must be for the “sole benefit of the spouse;”
- Be sure to ask your Peachtree estate planning attorney to fully explain to you the meaning of “Medicaid Annuities” and how you must properly handle them, if they apply to you;
- There are some hardship exceptions that may be honored if you make what is normally considered an illegal or improper gift to someone. These qualifying hardships can be hard to prove – but frequently they involve gifts made to seriously disabled family members.
Be very honest about what you’re doing if you’re trying to qualify for Medicaid. It really does just belong to those who are poor – and not wealthy people who are just trying to hide assets for family members once they’ve passed away.
To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today. You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.