For example, after a hospitalization Medicare may cover up to 100 days of nursing home care so long as the patient needs skilled care. However, if that patient requires care beyond Medicare’s coverage limit, then without any long-term care insurance, that patient would be responsible for the full cost of his care.
This requires applying with supporting documentation to the applicant’s local department of social services. The rules governing Medicaid are complex, and quite often each county’s department of social services interprets these rules differently. Therefore, it behooves an applicant to retain the services of an elder law attorney to assist her with navigating the Medicaid minefield.
A person is not obliged to retain a lawyer to assist him with applying for Medicaid. Many professionals such as social workers can and do assist their clients accordingly. Many people are tempted to retain the services of a non-lawyer because they believe it will save them money, but in the long run this may not hold true.
Attorneys will not only assist their clients in preparing their applications, they will also advise them on options to preserve a significant portion of their assets, review their estate plans, and advise them on any tax implications.
The following examples illustrate why it is almost always in an applicant’s best interest to retain the services of an experienced elder law attorney:
She hired a home care agency who told her that they would prepare her application at no charge. What the agency failed to do was advise Judith that, when she died, her home would pass through her probate estate.
On her death, Medicaid filed a claim against Judith’s estate in order to recoup the money it had spent on her care. Once Medicaid’s claim was satisfied, there was almost nothing left for Judith’s children.
An attorney could have advised Judith on how she could have protected her home.
She heard that Medicaid might attach a lien to her home or make a claim against her estate. Nancy decided to transfer her home to her children hoping that, if she needed care, the “look-back” period would have passed, and her home would be protected.
However, when her children sold Nancy’s home after her death, they had to pay capital gains tax.
An attorney could have advised Nancy as to how she could have transferred her home without her children incurring adverse tax consequences.