The sooner clients seek my advice with regard to Medicaid planning, the better. Even if nursing home placement is expected within a few months, weeks or days, you will have more options for planning and preserving your assets than if you wait until the date you actually need Medicaid (MassHealth) benefits to pay for your care. This is because once you are in a nursing home and paying privately, you can only use certain expenses to “spend down” your assets in order to obtain Medicaid eligibility. If Medicare is still paying for your nursing home care, you have more options for spending down your assets and can reduce the amount of days or months you will need to pay privately for your nursing home care.

Medicaid planning involves reviewing your current asset situation, including how your assets are owned whether individually or jointly, and advising you of any necessary estate planning documents you need such as durable powers of attorney, health care proxies, wills and trusts. Depending upon your planning goals and your current health situation, together we will determine the best plan for you to accomplish your goals. If you plan early enough, we can protect assets without making gifts which result in an ineligibility period for Medicaid eligibility. We will also review any gifts or transfers you have made to determine if they will have an impact on your current or future Medicaid eligibility.

I assist clients with Medicaid (MassHealth) planning and applications for payment of nursing home care. Planning in this area requires extensive knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing MassHealth regulations. Even if nursing home placement is not imminent, it is important to know the impact of any gifts or transfers you make or have already made will have on your future Medicaid benefits. Completing a Medicaid application can be a daunting task due to the complex regulations and document requirements. I have nineteen years of experience in completing and filing Medicaid applications and attempt to alleviate as much of the stress from my clients as possible so that they can focus on the care of their family members.

Nursing home staff and other companies that prepare applications are not elder law attorneys and are NOT qualified to advise you regarding how to preserve your assets during the application process, nor are they aware of the implications of filing a Medicaid application too soon or too late.  While nursing home staff may agree to assist you with filing the application and supporting documents with MassHealth, they do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided or time deadlines associated with the application. Moreover, since they are not attorneys, they cannot determine if you are eligible at the time of filing the application or advise you how to become eligible as soon as possible to reduce the amount you will pay the nursing home from your own funds. Often, individuals and families seek the assistance of the nursing home staff to complete and file the application to avoid the cost of an attorney. This usually results in an incomplete application being filed or the client not being eligible at the time of filing which results in the individual paying for more of his or her nursing home costs. The attorney’s fee can be paid from the nursing home resident’s funds as part of the spend down as long as it is paid prior to the date the individual needs Medicaid eligibility.

As part of preparing a Medicaid (MassHealth) application, I review several years of your bank and financial statements to look for any issues which may affect your eligibility. I will also advise you of any changes which need to be made with regard to the ownership of any of your assets and any of your estate planning documents to prevent future liens on your real estate or estate recovery. It is important to understand that completing and filing a Medicaid application requires extensive knowledge of the MassHealth regulations. I work with you through the entire eligibility process.