Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Why Retitling Assets to Your Spouse to Qualify for Medicaid May Not Work Part 2

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

Why Retitling Assets to Your Spouse to Qualify for Medicaid May Not Work Part 2 | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

 

nursing-home-brochure

 

A few weeks ago we were discussing Angela’s dilemma.  Her husband, Peter, has Alzheimer’s disease and is going to need some care at home.  Angela is concerned that he will need nursing home level care sooner rather than later and she wants to preserve their primary home as well as their vacation home.

The problem is that Peter does not have long term care insurance so they will have to privately pay for care until he qualifies as eligible for Medicaid.  Angela can keep the primary home and $119,220 in assets and still be eligible. Unfortunately, all their other assets, including their vacation home, will need to be spent down before Medicaid will cover his care.  She can’t simply take Peter’s name off the deed to their vacation home like she had hoped she could.

So, what are their options?  It may still be possible to transfer the second home to a trust and try to get through the 5 year look back.  Peter doesn’t need nursing home level care yet, and if his decline in health is slow enough, it may be possible to continue paying for the care he needs for the next 5 years.  This option would mean that they would have to spend their other savings during that time frame and if they can’t quite make it, maybe their children or another family member can help to pay for Peter’s care.  If not, Angela can always sell the vacation home if there is no other option.

Another approach for Angela to consider, she could also sell both homes and then buy one primary residence with the proceeds from both sales.  While this option doesn’t accomplish what Angela really wants, keeping their vacation home in the family, it does help preserve their assets for any future needs she may have as well as increase the amount that she will be able to be passed on to her family when she is gone.  If a family member can purchase the property from her, or take a mortgage to do so, then it can stay in the family like she wanted.

So where does Angela go from here?  We told her that a transfer to trust is definitely worth considering since we don’t know how Peter’s illness will progress.  The lesson here is an important one:  Angela should have called us much earlier, when both Peter and Angela were still healthy, not after Peter’s diagnosis.  It would have made it much easier to get through Medicaid’s 5 year look back and Angela would have been able to rest easy knowing she had secured their vacation home that she and her family have enjoyed for years.

As it stands now, she could set up the trust that meets Medicaid requirements, make the transfer and hope for the best to make it through the current five year look back period. If the ten year look back period ever passed, it would not make sense given Peter’s illness.

 

For additional guidance, please see The Seniors and Boomer's Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty the book provides important information for families on resources for quality care and protection for loved ones.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, asset protection, Medicaid, Nursing Homes, transfer of assets, retitling assets, 2015

Why Retitling Assets to Your Spouse to Qualify for Medicaid May Not Work

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 26, 2015

Why Retitling Assets to Your Spouse to Qualify for Medicaid May Not Work | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney
 

 nursing-home-brochure

 

It’s something we have written about in past blog posts but just last week we received a call from Angela on this exact issue.  Her husband, Peter, has Alzheimer’s and is receiving care at home from a visiting nurse.  She is concerned that as his condition worsens, it won’t be long before he needs to go to a nursing home for care.  At around $160,000 a year she doesn’t have sufficient income to pay that kind of expense.

A few years ago Angela met with her attorney about planning for the possibility of needing Medicaid for Peter.  She wanted to insure that her primary residence and vacation home would be protected, and that they would not need to be sold and spent down for care.  Her attorney told her not to worry, “We’ll just transfer Peter’s interest in the homes over to you.”  So that’s what they did. 

 “Unfortunately”, we told Angela, “that is not going to protect the vacation home.” That’s because under Medicaid’s rules, Angela can keep their primary residence, however all other assets, including the vacation home, are considered “countable” assets.  Unfortunately, Angela is entitled to keep only up to a maximum of $119,220 (the limit in 2015) of the “countable assets”. Everything else may be required to be spent on Peter’s nursing home care. 

It’s a common mistake I still see people make all the time.  You can’t simply shift everything over to the healthy spouse in order to get the ill spouse’s assets under the $2,000 limit to qualify for Medicaid.  So, where does that leave Angela?  Next week I’ll share that with you.

 

For Furhter reading, look at our book The Seniors and Boomer's Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty where we cover topics like this and help you avoid many of the common pitfalls that occur during estate planning.

For more on the mistakes and oversights that can affect people and their families, take a look at our new book: The 10 Biggest Estate Planning and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them! 2nd edition, now including the special bonus chapter, The Biggest Long Term Care Planning Oversights and Opportunities for Long Term Care

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

 

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, asset protection, transfer of assets, alzheimers

A Trust For A Future Generation

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

A Trust For A Future Generation
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An Old Tool That Still Works

Dynasty Trusts also referred to as Legacy Trusts are an instrument that has been used by the wealthy to preserve the wealth and legacy of family assets for generations upon generations. Most of the high net worth families from the late 1800's to early 1900's enjoyed the benefits of the Dynasty Trust. It is also well known that the Kennedy's are still enjoying the benefits of the Dynasty Trusts established generations ago.

 

So What Is It, And How Does It Work?

A Dynasty Trust is an Irrevocable Trust used to pass wealth and assets to descendants of the person establishing the Trust. The trust does not leave assets to a spouse or the immediate children, but to grand-children, and in the past it was left to great-grand-children or even great-great-grandchildren. Essentially, a Grantor could leave a substantial estate to children multiple generations that he or she would never live to meet.

This process went on for many years and an extreme amount of wealth was passed on tax free. Eventually though the government saw how much money it wasn’t getting its hands on and cracked down on the practice. They created the Generation Skipping Tax: a law designed to prevent wealthy families from transferring their enormous wealth on without paying an inheritance tax. So, these trusts can no longer go on for generations after generation, since the government has now hedged themselves to ultimately get paid.

 

Some Exclusions Apply

However, the government has also provided for the gift tax exclusion. The amount varies depending on the current administration in Washington, but currently there is a $5.34 million (adjusted to inflation) gift tax exclusion which means that you can give away in your lifetime up to that amount tax free. After that, you pay a significant percentage in taxes on gifted transfers of wealth. For a married couple, you can double the amount to $10.68 million.

One other item that affects the Dynasty Trust is a complex and convoluted law called the Rule Against Perpetuities. This law limits the number of generations that can be skipped before the Trust must commence distributions. The law puts a time limit on the Trust so that the money cannot be held in trust forever and must eventually be distributed. There are many other rules to this law that we do not have time to deal with here, but simply put, the Rule states that the distribution must take place within 21 years after the last remaining beneficiary, alive at the time of the making of the Trust, dies.

 

Who Gets What?

As mentioned earlier, your children do not benefit from the principle of the trust; however they will receive the income from the trust during their lifetimes. Your grandchildren would be deemed the true beneficiaries, thereby receiving the assets in the trust, inheritance tax free.

We have only scratched the surface of the complexity and usefulness of this trust in this blog. A Legacy Trust is not for everyone and a lot of thought and planning must go into determining whether this trust accomplishes your goals and intent. However, when used, this Trust is extremely powerful, not only for preserving wealth but for its asset protection functionality. If you have not used up your lifetime gift exclusion and you are interested in preserving some family wealth for future generations, we recommend you contact our office to learn more about the Dynasty Trust.

 

For further information on how to protect the inheritance for your children and grandchildren, please take a look at our book, The Ten Biggest Estate Planning and Asset Protection Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 2nd Edition, available for FREE kindle download between September 26th and October 2nd, or for purchase from Amazon.com

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, Estate Planning, Massacusetts Estate Tax, massachusetts estate planning strategies, tax exemption, transfer of assets, Wills

The High Cost of Seniors Living Longer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 05, 2014

 

The Cost of Living Longer | Massachusetts Eldercare Attorney

 

 planning, estate, eldercare

 

A Pachyderm of Problems

Every day, we see clients for whom long-term care is the elephant in the room. They feel they can’t afford the costs, but they also feel they can’t afford not to have it either. So their solution is to pretend they don’t see the elephant and try to ignore the problem until it goes away on its own. This unfortunately often leads to our metaphorical elephant trampling their life savings and any future inheritance they are trying to leave behind. The older you are, the more expensive a long-term care policy gets and if you get sick before you have long-term care protection in place, it’s too late. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, and an already ill senior will scare them off.

The costs for these policies are rising faster than inflation too. Therein lies the conundrum for Boomers and seniors: They’re living longer than their parents did but that means they need more money to make it through “old age”. Finding long-term care is a tough and complicated process. You’ll need to find a place that cares for people with your (or your loved one’s) circumstances. You need to find a place with the right facilities and staff, a place that leaves you with a good, safe feeling. And you have to be able to afford it too. This is not any sort of one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has their own specific services and conditions that they or their loved ones will need met. Remember, what we call “long-term care” is a broad category, with options ranging from live-in facilities to your own home.

Lurking Complications With Long Term Care

The greatest threat to the financial security of Boomers and seniors is the cost of long-term care (and Obamacare will not assist with this). Assisted-living facilities are now climbing toward the $7,500-a-month mark. Many have started bundling more services together, rather than charging for each individually. Bundling might be a good idea from the nursing home’s perspective, but just like pre-packaged cable TV you will wind up paying for a lot of services you don’t need and don’t want. A private room at a nursing home will range from $500 - $600 a day.

The cost of home healthcare is rising, too. Some people choose independent-living apartments. These facilities typically don’t require lump-sum payments, and residents can contract with home health-services independently. Medicaid may be there for those who qualify but if you ever want to learn the true meaning of “jumping through hoops” just try qualifying! The best thing, of course, is long-term care insurance, but that’s getting more expensive too as companies raise their rates while cutting back on their coverage. In addition, this insurance is getting more complicated, now encompassing aspects such as protection of the surviving spouse, caregiver issues, scams/ID theft, and making sure you have an advocate to fight for your rights in a system that’s slanted against you.

In short, we’re living longer, and unlike previous generations, people are generally not living with or even near their children. Seniors are going to need more money for this longer life and for any unforeseen medical problems that may arise.

A Magic Trick No One Wants to See

Do you know the fastest way for a Boomer or senior couple to become an impoverished Boomer or senior couple is? Simple, one of them just needs to become ill before they get long-term care insurance. We see it every day, people who’ve worked hard and saved money all their lives are forced to see it wash away in a flood of medical bills as they age. It is truly heart-breaking, because, if you’ve managed to squirrel some money away, you could probably have afforded long-term care. 

The Downside to Living Longer

Our life expectancies are going up these days and so is the cost of healthcare, the distance seniors are living from their children and families, and the financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid. The new Affordable Care Act, in fact, stipulates $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade! Where do you turn if you or your spouse gets ill? Home health care? Adult day-care? Assisted-living? A nursing facility? Respite-care services, which allow the caregiver to drop off the senior for a limited period? Who’s going to pay for it? And for how long?  These are the questions to ask now, while you still have time to plan. If you haven’t purchased long-term care before you or your spouse become ill…forget about it. No one will insure you once you’re sick! If this happens to you, you’re going to be out of time, out of options, and very quickly out of money. And if you’ve planned to leave something for your heirs, there may be nothing left to leave to them other than a pile of bills. 

 

It’s an old (but true) cliché: those who fail to plan, are planning to fail. When it comes to healthcare expenses as you age, you fail to plan at the risk of yourself and those you love.  

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop 

 

Tags: living will, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, asset protection, Massacusetts Estate Tax, long term care, life insurance, Medicaid, MassHealth, in-home care, marriage, Estate Planning Tip, seniors, assisted living, life-care plan, hospice, Massachusetts, assets, in home, incapacity, asset, home, surviving spouse, Estate Planning Recommendations, in-home care, long term care insurance, Inheritance

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Aug 18, 2014

 

The Unique Challenges in Women Face with Estate Planning

Estate planning for women

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women can be different and full of confusing choices. Women are living longer today than ever before, and you will need an estate plan that can protect you from the new challenges arising daily. Let’s look at some of the more common situations below:

Married women tend to be younger than their husbands and tend to be on their own once their husband passes. Many married women let their husbands do all the financial planning, including their estate planning. Unfortunately this leaves many of them confused, or even blindsided by the oncoming costs that can appear with their estate and long term care options. Second marriages can create a whole new set of issues to deal with as well. Children from both marriages must be accounted for and must know what their responsibilities are going to be as well as fairly dividing their inheritance. For your own sake it would be best if you chose exactly who you would want to have power of attorney as well as whom you wish to have as your healthcare proxy. It is also important to update these documents regularly as many institutions do not accept them if they are more than a year old.

Single or childless women may choose to leave their possessions to close friends, relatives or charities. Without a good, up-to-date estate plan however, that won’t happen. Instead a bureaucrat appointed by the state will decide where your worldly goods will go when you’re gone. And for women living with a partner whom they are not legally married to, their partner won’t see one red cent of your estate unless you have an ironclad estate plan stipulating who gets what.

Your documents cannot do you much good unless they have been updated to reflect your current needs and situation. If you have gone through a separation or divorce you probably do not wish for your former partner to inherit your things or be making medical decisions about you. We have seen many cases where this has happened, and it is too late to change anything. Fortunately situations like this can be avoided by simply updating your documents regularly. At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates we provide clients with a unique Lifetime Protection Program to help keep their documents and plans up to date with any changes in their personal, family and health situations.

You must also consider what will happen if you require long term care and make sure there is going to adequate funding for what you may need in the future. Many people have made the mistake of giving away their savings in order to qualify for Medicaid without consulting a professional first. Not only was this unnecessary, they often still do not qualify because they did not plan for their situation ahead of time. Giving away their assets can even create large penalties if you ever need a nursing home. To learn more about some of the other mistakes to watch out for take a look at The Ten Biggest Estate and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them! For a free report based on the book click here.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: health care proxy, Estate Planning, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Charitable Giving, Nursing Homes, marriage, Beneficiary, elder care, assisted living, estate, assets, coverage, death benefit, surviving spouse, Estate Planning Recommendations

Can Your Will Protect You When You Don't Die?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

 

What Happens When You Don’t Die?

medicare, medicaid, wills, spouse

 

Is your “I love you” will capable of protecting you or your spouse from long-term care costs?

You know the kinds of wills we’re talking about: The husband leaves everything to the wife, the wife leaves everything to the husband and after they both die, everything goes to the kids. This works well in situations where the spouses are healthy one day and are deceased the next. 

However, as most of us know, life usually doesn’t work that way very often. Research indicates that nearly 70% of individuals over 65 will require some kind of long-term care in their lifetimes.

Thus, many spouses worry that if they predecease an ill spouse who is currently in a nursing home or will require long-term care at some point in the near future, there will be insufficient funds available to provide for their institutionalized spouses’ needs. This is an especially relevant concern for expenses that are not covered under Medicaid such as: care managers, private nurses, single rooms, as well as certain therapies and drugs.

Another concern is that the availability of funds from “I love you” wills and trusts will disqualify the surviving ill spouse from eligibility for Medicare benefits. As you know from prior articles, Medicare (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is the only long-term-care governmental program in the United States and does not cover long-term custodial care.

To solve this problem many of our clients rely on a “testamentary trust”. This is a trust built into the will of each spouse. For many estate planners, this is counterintuitive because much of the estate planning occurs within the context of a revocable living trust. In order to preserve access to Medicaid eligibility without requiring that the surviving spouse spend down the assets and lose the chance to maintain a “rainy day fund”, creating a testamentary trust in the will of the pre-deceasing spouse is essential.

What this means is that around age 55, you have to completely revise your wills and trusts to accommodate a different paradigm of thought. The thinking process is no longer “What happens when I die?” Now the question becomes “What happens if I don’t die and live a long time with expensive long-term care?”

The new paradigm requires a new estate plan. If you consider yourself middle-class (meaning that your net worth will be significantly impacted by the cost of long-term care for you and/or your spouse) and are over age 55, we suggest that you revise and update your estate plan to reflect your current and future needs as soon as possible.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: will, living will, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, in-home care, Health Care, estate reduction, estate, elder care journey, hospice, Alzheimers Disease, medicaid qualification, Wills, assets, Medicaid penalties, alzheimer's activities, in home, incapacity, Elder Law, Attorney, myths, Alzheimer's, alzheimers, financial, Attorney, income, Alzheimer's, federal, health, surviving spouse, in-home care, long term care insurance

Great News About Long Term Care Planning for You and Your Loved Ones

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

More Good News: Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Planning

 Medicare family

Our firm has helped people and their families with long-term care planning for more than 20 years. While helping people, it is very important to help focus  on the health, long term care and estate and life planning needs for the individual and family. This is a holistic approach that helps families plan for obtaining the best quality care in their home, the community or perhaps assited living. Many people we help are also concerned  about the devastating cost of a Medicaid spend down of assets due to a long-term nursing home stay.

 

We have also had other success in Medicaid crisis planning relying on other strategies that are available in Massachusetts law,unlike some other states, that allow  citizens to pay part of their costs with their assets and eventually qualify for long-term care assistance to the Medicaid program.

 

Some people also have a long-term care insurance policy to help pay fort care at home, in the community and many times their plan will even will provide a care coordinator. Thus, we do recommend you contact your insurance advisor to look into the possibility of obtaining long-term care insurance while you can still qualify under medical underwriting.

 

If any of these topics concern or interest you please contact our office at 781-237-2815 to consult with our attorneys or request a copy of our Seniors and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty for $14.95 or is available from www.DSullivan.com. We would be happy to be your guides on your Estate Planning/Elder Care journey.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Medicare, durable power of attorney, estate reduction, Estate Planning Tip, estate, estate tax, Massachusetts, senior, Medicare, asset, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, long term care insurance

Medicaid is No Walk in the Park Part 2|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Nov 20, 2013

Medicaid is No Walk in the Park 

Part II

Walk in the Park

 Last time we were examining Kate’s problem getting Medicaid for her mom.  Specifically, the issue was a joint account held by mother and daughter.

Into that account, Kate deposited her income which she used to pay for household bills, such as utilities, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance etc.  She took some of Mom’s income and transferred it to that joint account in order to pay some of those bills.  She explained that both of them were living in the household so they both contributed to the costs.

“Not a problem”, I told Kate.  “But, if you are claiming that the account isn’t Mom’s, you have the burden of proving that.  Medicaid assumes that it was Mom’s account and she put your name on it, not the other way around.  You must trace that account back to when it was just in your name, before you added Mom as a co-owner.  Only then will Medicaid be satisfied that it isn’t Mom’s.”

Kate listened carefully.  “So, is that it”, she asked.   No, actually there was more.

If we are successful in showing Medicaid that it isn’t Mom’s account, then the transfer of Mom’s income to that account to help pay the bills would now be a transfer for less than fair value.  Why is that?  Because Mom is transferring money out of her name to an account that we have just proved is Kate’s, not Mom’s.

Isn‘t  Kate then caught up in a classic Catch-22?  She seems to lose either way. Well, no.  Not really.  There is a way out.  Remember, the money transferred to the joint account is Mom’s share of the household expenses.  As long as we are able to prove by a clear paper trail what that money was spent on, then Medicaid won’t assess a penalty.

I asked Kate if she is able to do all that.  She was hesitant to reply.  She told me she hadn’t kept detailed records with the expectation that she would need to prove all this to anyone.  But, she said she would do her best.

“As long as we can back up what you are saying with a clean paper trail”, I told Kate, “then we should be able to straighten out your Medicaid denial.”  Kate certainly had plenty of motivation to get to work.  The$ 40,000 nursing home bill that Mom owes would motivate just about anyone.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, Medicaid, MassHealth, medicaid qualification, assets, Medicaid penalties, asset, 2013

Medicaid is no Walk in the Park |Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Nov 18, 2013

Medicaid Is No Walk In The Park

Walking in the Park, Thinking

Kate told me, “Mom has no money.  She’s never had any money.  But Medicaid still denied her application and now I owe the nursing home $40,000.”  I knew there had to be more to her story.  Sure enough, there was.

It’s a very common belief that, because Mom and Dad never had much money, the Medicaid application process should be a piece of cake.  Maybe it should be but the reality is it just isn’t the case. Kate’s dilemma was proof.

Kate told me that she and her Mom had lived together her entire life.  In fact, Mom and Dad transferred the home to Kate.  When I heard that, I immediately thought this could be her problem right there.

I asked how long ago the deed had been transferred.   “10 years ago”, was Kate’s reply.  That was clearly outside the 5 year Medicaid look back period so could not have triggered a Medicaid transfer penalty.    It had to be something else.

“Does Mom have any accounts with her name on it, that, in your mind, you don’t consider hers”, I asked.  That’s when Kate told me that she had a joint account with Mom but she insisted the money in that account was all hers, not Kate’s.

I learned that Kate’s income is deposited into that account, from which she pays the bills.  Mom’s income, she told me, goes into a separate account in Mom’s name, the only account Kate considers to be owned by Mom.  I explained to her that this was mostly likely the cause of her Medicaid denial.

Next time I’ll share with you why and what we could do to fix the problem.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, Medicaid, MassHealth, medicaid qualification, assets, Medicare, asset, 2013

VA Rules are Changing: NEW Three Year Look Back! | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 08, 2013

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The winds of change are blowing over the VA landscape.  I’ve written about this in the past and the time may soon be here.  These are changes that you need to understand.

 Over the years, many of our clients have been able to qualify for an Improved Pension (sometimes called Aid and Attendance Benefit) to help pay for the cost of long term care, whether that be in an assisted living facility or nursing home or to enable them to stay home longer. This VA benefit has helped many people meet the high cost of care and stretch their dollars.

 In order to be eligible for the VA benefit, as a rule of thumb, claimants had to have assets totaling less than about $80,000 (not counting their home or car). They also had to meet the VA income rules. While giving away assets triggers a five year look-back under the Medicaid rules, under the VA rules there is no look-back period for gifts or asset transfers.

 All of that may be about to change under new VA legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

 While the legislation has not yet been voted on, there are commonalities in the bills which tell us that a change in the law is near. Among the biggest proposed changes are the following:

  • A penalty with a three year look-back for asset transfers under the VA rules.

  • Under the new rules, transferring money into a Vet Trust or into an annuity will also trigger the three year look-back period.

  • What’s more, penalties caused by an asset transfer from a now-deceased spouse will carry over to the surviving spouse.

 As with so many bills that wind through the legislative process, no one can know for sure what the final result will be until the House and Senate have each voted and then reconciled their respective bills and then the President must sign it. Our best guess is that the new legislation will probably make its way to a vote early next year and it appears likely that it will become the law of the land at that time.

 For that reason, people who are eyeing VA eligibility would do well to get their plans in place now before the anticipated law changes. Any new law will be prospective only, meaning opportunities still exist now under the current laws.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: Estate Planning, asset protection, veterans benefits, VA benefits, Veteran, VA, 2013

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