Protecting Your Golden Years
With more than 30 years of experience
See Us About Using Medicaid To Protect Assets
Faced with a need for home care or nursing home care, many Georgians assume that they must “spend down” their life’s savings to qualify for Medicaid benefits. To discuss any additional questions you may have about Medicaid planning, contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Would you rather keep (and pass on) the assets you have worked for all your life, or give them to the federal government simply because you have become old? With a five-year look-back period, prior planning is the key. Now is the time to plan. By waiting, you lose your options.
Medicaid Planning As Asset Protection: An FAQ
Q: Is it possible to protect my assets and income and still be eligible for Medicaid?
Yes! With experienced legal advice and aid in comprehensive Medicaid planning from a qualified elder law attorney, you and your family members may be able to conserve your life’s savings, your income and your home for yourself and your loved ones.
Q: How can I preserve our life savings?
The Medicaid planning attorneys and staff at the Hodges Law Firm, LLC, can assist you in preserving your assets for yourself and your loved ones while strictly adhering to all federal, state and local laws.
Q: How can I protect my family business?
We can assist you in forming the appropriate vehicle to preserve your family business and preclude it from being considered as income for purposes of Medicaid eligibility.
Q: What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a joint federal, state and local program that includes long-term care for those who are permanently or chronically ill, injured or disabled. The Medicaid program is the largest single source for nursing home costs in the state of Georgia. It can pay for most of the costs of nursing home care if the applicant qualifies under the medical
and financial requirements of Georgia’s program.
Q: What are the financial requirements of Georgia’s Medicaid, and how can I protect my assets?
Medicaid will only allow each individual to keep a certain amount of assets in order to qualify. Assets are divided into two categories: exempt and nonexempt (or countable) assets. Exempt assets will not be taken into account under present Georgia laws. These include:
- Home place: The applicant’s residence and all adjoining land and buildings on the property, if the equity in the property is $500,000 or less.
- Household goods: Furniture, decorations, art and appliances.
- Burial exclusion: The applicant and his/her spouse can each have up to $10,000 designated for burial expenses. This can be a prepaid funeral policy or funds set aside and designated in a separate bank account.
- Income-producing property: This is property which produces income, such as a rental house or a farm with an equity interest of not more than $6,000. Also, the property must yield at least 6% net per year of the amount being excluded. Also excluded is property used by an active business and nonbusiness property up to $6,000 in equity value, such as a fishing boat or a farm tractor, used to produce goods for home consumption.
- Life estate interests: These are interests which do not exceed the life of the applicant.
- Life insurance policies: Term life insurance is excluded; however, any amount over $10,000 is subject to estate recovery (discussed later). The cash value of Whole Life Insurance is counted as a resource after the $10,000 burial exclusion amount is deducted.
- Automobiles: One vehicle is excluded, regardless of value or whether it is being currently used. Junk cars are not.
- Loans, promissory notes, mortgages and security agreements: These are countable resources to the applicant or spouse if they are the lenders or sellers thereunder. The interest, if received in regular payments, is considered income to the receiver.
- Personal items: Clothing, jewelry, etc., are excluded.
- Retirement funds: Funds, such as IRAs, 401(k)s and pensions are excludable assets if they are being distributed in regular payments that include a portion of principal.
- Nonmarketable assets: Assets are excluded while the applicant is making a bona fide effort to sell them. The property must be advertised and listed for no more than its current fair market value. If listed, it must have a for sale sign displayed, and the applicant must accept an offer if it is at least two-thirds of the current market value offer.
All other assets are nonexempt. This includes cash or anything that can be turned into cash.
Medicaid Planning For A Single Person
As a single person, you will qualify for Medicaid if you have only exempt assets plus a small amount of cash or nonexempt assets ($2,000 currently in Georgia).
Medicaid Planning For Married Couples
In Georgia, the at-home or community spouse is allowed to keep all countable assets up to about $109,560. The rest of what is considered the countable assets must be “spent down,” except for the $2,000 or less that Georgia will allow him or her to retain and still qualify for Medicaid. The amount of the countable assets which the at-home spouse gets to keep is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CRSA).
Each state also establishes a monthly income floor for the at-home spouse. Medicaid calls this the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance (MMMNA). This allows the community spouse to receive a monthly income of up to $2,739.
If the community spouse does not receive at least $2,739 in income each month, then he or she is allowed to take the income of the nursing home spouse an amount large enough to attain the MMMNA. In this way, if carefully crafted, the at-home spouse avoids dipping into his or her savings each month, thus impoverishing them unnecessarily. This can easily mount up to $2,000 or more in savings each month (dependant on the circumstances).
Let Hodges Law Firm, LLC, Help You Protect Assets
The Hodges Law Firm, LLC, assists individuals in preparing Medicaid applications on their behalf. These filings are complex and require extensive knowledge of Medicaid rules and procedures. Let our trained staff in Atlanta, Georgia, help you navigate these tricky waters. Call 678-608-1746, toll-free at 888-586-2621 or send us an email.