Tampa Elder Law/Medicaid Attorney
Medicaid planning and asset protection in Tampa is important for people of all ages, but it is particularly essential for anyone who is nearing the age of retirement or has retired recently. Most of us do not think about the need for long-term care or the extensive costs associated with long-term care following an injury or a debilitating illness. Long-term care can include in-home health services, or moving into an assisted-living facility or a nursing home. More older adults require long-term care than you might think, and few have planned ways to pay for this costly care. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) reports that a person aged 65 or older has a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care and 20 percent of those older adults will require long-term care for more than five years. According to U.S. News & World Report, residents in nursing homes tend to stay, on average, for close to 2.5 years, and some nursing homes can cost as much as $80,000 per year.
Planning for long-term care with help from a Tampa elder law/Medicaid attorney, and taking into account asset protection and Medicaid planning strategies, is essential for anyone in Florida.
Plan Ahead with Long-Term Care Insurance
Assuming you do not have an overabundance of assets such that you are not concerned about paying for a nursing home, you should be thinking about asset protection strategies to protect the assets you have accumulated from decades of work and investing that you hope to leave to your loved ones. One way to pay for long-term care is by working with an elder law attorney to find an appropriate long-term care insurance policy.
These types of policies can vary widely, and it is critical to find a policy that will provide you with the kind of coverage you may need so that you do not need to spend down assets in order to be eligible for Medicaid as an older adult. To be sure, paying for long-term care insurance before you need this type of care can be an effective asset-protection strategy.
Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection in Florida
If you need long-term care and you do not have long-term care insurance that can cover the costs, you will likely be considering ways to become eligible for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is a federal health program that is designed for low-income individuals of all ages, but it is a major source of funding for seniors aged 65 and older who need long-term care. To be eligible for Medicaid, a single senior cannot have an income of more than $2,382 per month and cannot have countable assets of more than $2,000. What these asset limits mean for most seniors is that they will need to “spend down” existing assets in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits for long-term care. There are some assets that are considered exempt from the countable assets, but a senior may still need to “spend down” in order to qualify.
To avoid ending up in this situation, you should seek advice from a Tampa elder asset protection lawyer about Medicaid planning. You may be eligible to set up a Qualified Income Trust (QIT) to protect your non-exempt assets in the event that you do need long-term care. The assets that go into Qualified Income Trusts will not count against you for Medicaid purposes, although you cannot “spend down” your assets by opening a QIT when you need long-term care. You will need to plan ahead.
You should also know that you cannot simply “gift” assets to a relative or friend when you need long-term care in order to “spend down” for Medicaid purposes. There is a look-back period for gifts, and you can face penalties.
Contact Our Tampa Elder Law and Asset Protection Lawyers Today
If you have questions about elder law, asset protection, and Medicaid planning, an experienced Tampa Medicaid planning attorney can help. Contact David Toback today.