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New York Medicaid planning now to prevent ineligibility later

Individuals with aging parents or relatives in New York may have considered the eventuality of a nursing home stay for their loved ones. Thinking about it and actually planning for it are two very different things, however. Unfortunately for many, the exorbitant costs of a nursing home stay, especially when long-term care is needed, can be prohibitive, which is why many families hope to rely on Medicaid to help cover these expenses. Without adequate Medicaid planning, though, this could be more complicated than many initially believe.

Perhaps the first issue to address is whether a particular nursing home is Medicaid approved and accepts Medicaid payments, as not all do. Medicaid is both a state and a federal program, which means that its eligibility rules are complex. In order to receive benefits, an elderly person must meet specific financial and medical requirements.

Generally, the individual must be over the age of 65 or disabled, and his or her income and assets must fall below a certain threshold. For those whose income exceeds the limit, there are methods an attorney with experience in Medicaid planning can employ to help. Assets that are inaccessible to an individual are not countable for Medicaid purposes, so there are ways to gift those assets or establish specific types of trusts.

However, transferring assets, even to preserve them for heirs and loved ones, may create a waiting period, during which the individual is ineligible to collect Medicaid, so it's never too early to begin planning. Additionally, as there are federal laws that specifically prohibit asset transfers made solely for Medicaid qualification, it may be advisable to consult an experienced Medicaid planning attorney before attempting to do so. As Medicaid eligibility rules are often confusing, many New York individuals could benefit from the knowledgeable guidance of a legal professional who can help them navigate the complex system of regulations and paperwork.

Source: 360financialliteracy.org, "I'm thinking about placing my mother in a nursing home. Will Medicaid pay for her care?", Accessed on July 21, 2017

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