NO KIDDING: ONE OF YOUR MOST VALUED ADVISERS AS YOU AGE IN ROCHESTER NY, IS AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY. H
No one likes lawyers. Until they need one.
As you age… and as aging takes its toll on health… you will find the advice of a good elder law attorney worth its weight in gold.
That’s because laws governing wealth transfer are extremely complex, no matter where you live. If you think you can just give everything away and then the government will take care of you… well… think again. That is NOT how it works!
Two pitfalls of aging with money.
1) The government-sponsored health insurance program that covers some of the costs of long-term (nursing home) care, Medicaid, is complex (see Rene Writes, Blog #2). One of the biggest issues is that Medicaid administrators, by law, must look into every aspect of your personal finances for 5 years preceding the date you apply for Medicaid coverage. They must, and will, review every transaction, account, asset, investment and holding that was in your (or your loved one’s) name… going back 5 years. What are they looking for? Cheaters! That is, people who try to give away their money to others in the hope that the government will pay for their nursing care. Remember, the Medicaid reviewers are careful, thorough and not easily fooled.
2) Be thoughtful: Keep some of your money so that you can ‘buy your way in’ to a ‘nicer’ nursing home setting. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But it’s very true. If you can approach a nursing home (when the time comes) with a year or two of care costs in the bank, there is a greater likelihood that the facility will welcome you immediately. This is an ugly truth that is rarely discussed… but very much a part of the aging care process.
A good elder law attorney is your friend. Really!
If you or your loved one has any accumulated wealth at all, the very best way to protect that wealth is by retaining the services of an elder law attorney.
A good elder law attorney will:
1) Explain the Medicaid/Medicare/level-of-care landscape in a way that will further your understanding of some very complex terrain. The more you understand the potential problems, the more you’ll be able to make sound decisions about the solutions.
2) If and when the time comes to apply for Medicaid, a good elder law attorney will help you prepare a successful (quickly-approved) application. If your financial picture is at all complex, navigating the Medicaid application process on your own will be almost impossible.
3) Believe it or not, there are complicated legal tactics that an elder law attorney can bring to the table that can protect about 50% of your assets from the so-called ‘Medicaid spend-down’ rules. These plans are tailor-made for each person and their family. The plans aren’t cheap. But they cost a whole lot less than 50% of your lifelong savings!
Think clearly. Involve your family. Plan. Act.
If you try to navigate these waters on your own, there’s a good chance all of your assets will be liquidated to pay for your care. If this is what you planned for, fine. But if you wish to leave your family a legacy, find and hire a reputable elder law attorney soon. Once serious illness sets in, it may be too late.