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Careful New York estate planning can help save the family home

Many individuals have worked hard their entire lives to save money for retirement, hoping to have an inheritance to pass along to their children. They plan to leave their home and other assets to their loved ones, and have created a will or trust to that effect. Unfortunately, an unplanned stay in a New York nursing home may also be in the cards, and if that is the case, careful and complex estate planning with a knowledgeable attorney may be necessary if the individual hopes to avoid the loss of all of his or her assets.

Nursing homes are expensive, but many people believe they can rely on Medicaid to help cover the cost of a stay. Medicaid, however, comes with a host of rules and income restrictions that limit eligibility. That income includes not just pensions, veterans' benefits and Social Security benefits, but also assets such as the person's home. If the assets on hand -- including ownership of a house -- exceed $2,500, eligibility for Medicaid for the ensuing month following will be denied.

There are some exceptions. An individual may be able to keep his or her house if a spouse or dependent is living in the home, or if the patient plans to return home after the nursing home stay. However, along with every exception comes a new rule; for example, if Medicaid workers decide that a patient will likely be unable to return home, a lien may be placed on the property. After the individual's death, the house will be sold to recover payments for the nursing care, often leaving no house or assets for loved ones to inherit.

One of the goals of proper estate planning is to create a means of excluding the house as a countable resource toward Medicaid eligibility requirements. This may be easier said than done, however, and usually requires the knowledge of an experienced New York estate planning lawyer. It may be almost impossible for an inexperienced individual to make all of the necessary legal stipulations on his or her own. An attorney who is familiar with all the ins and outs of the complex process will be able to offer insight throughout to help ensure an individual's assets are not completely exhausted just to pay for a nursing home stay.

Source: carrollcountytimes.com, "Planning assistance needed regarding major assets if nursing home stay is planned", Donna Engle, Feb. 10, 2017

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