Providing long term care planning, health care issues, retirement and Social Security issues, guardianships, and Medicaid to name a few. We provide our clients with the best options for senior living and provide a hands on approach to ensure you are well prepared.
Attorneys who practice in the area of elder law represent elderly people and their loved ones. Elder law includes a broad range of legal issues that affect elderly or disabled people. These may include long-term care planning, health care issues, retirement and Social Security issues, guardianships, Medicaid planning and other issues.
Older people often have needs that are more specialized and different than do younger adults. Because of these needs, the elder law may involve advocacy for the elderly in the day-to-day issues that affect their care, including life planning, protecting assets and assisted living. Elder law attorneys are sensitive to the physical and emotional needs of elderly and disabled adults and are equipped to handle many different challenging issues.
Long-term care planning is important for people as they grow older. It involves planning for the event that people may need to go into some sort of assisted living program. Part of the planning process is learning about the different types of long-term care options that might be available, including in-home care, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior communities. People who do not plan ahead for the time when they may need help may leave the decisions about what will happen to them in the hands of others. By planning, people may ensure their own care will be according to their wishes.
In addition to choosing the care settings, long-term care planning will also involve financial planning. If a person will be unable to afford to pay for his or her long-term care out of pocket, he or she will need to plan effectively so that he or she will be eligible for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care. There are also many other options to assist families to pay for in home care, or assisted living, including but not limited to Long-Term Care Insurance and/or Medicaid waiver programs
Protecting assets is important for seniors. It is a way to place assets out of the reach of creditors. These plans may include such things as maximizing the amount of contributions that are made to an IRA, placing assets in an irrevocable trust, establishing family limited partnerships or limited liability companies or retitling property. When people need to go into nursing homes and are wanting to qualify for Medicaid to pay for it, having a plan in place can help to protect the assets that they have built up so that the state does not reimburse itself by taking the assets. The important part of this is that any non-exempt transfers, for less than adequate consideration, must be made at least five years before care is needed or the state may be able to reach the asset, or deny benefits. While preemptive planning is always recommended, there are also strategies to assist individuals who need to perform crisis Medicaid planning.
Under the law, healthy spouses of elderly or disabled Medicaid applicants are protected so that they will have the minimum support required to continue living in their communities while their spouses are living in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.
A married spouse may become incapacitated and need to apply for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. When one spouse applies for Medicaid, the state looks at the countable assets of both spouses on the date on which the incapacitated or ill spouse entered a long-term care facility or hospital in which he or she stays for 30 days or longer. Nursing home residents may not have greater than $2,000 in assets for Medicaid benefits eligibility. In Florida, community spouses are allowed to keep total countable assets owned by the couple up to $120,900 as of 2017. This is called the community spouse resource allowance and is the maximum amount that a state can allow a healthy spouse to keep without a court hearing. The smallest amount that a state might let a healthy spouse to keep is $23,844.
Healthy spouses who are still working and earning incomes do not have their incomes counted towards their ill spouses for Medicaid eligibility. When the ill spouse holds a majority of the income and the healthy spouse does not have a high enough income to live, the healthy spouse is entitled to receive either a portion or all of the institutionalized spouse’s monthly income. The amount of entitlement will depend on what the state determines to be the minimum income level for the healthy spouse using a complicated formula.
Elder law attorneys also help families and elderly people by advocating for nursing care needs when the elderly people are living in nursing homes. This may include advocating for the elderly patients if there are suspicions of neglect or abuse, helping the elderly person by assisting with planning for their needs, helping with drafting such things as advanced directives, living wills and other estate planning documents and financial and asset protection plans. Our elder law attorneys advise our clients to help to improve the quality of their lives while also assisting with nursing home plans that help to protect them.
Medicaid planning is very important for many elderly people. If they have to go into long-term care facilities, or need in-home care, the monthly cost can be staggering and quickly decimate the assets that they have spent lifetimes building. Medicaid planning involves helping elderly people to make certain that they will be eligible for Medicaid when the time comes for them to go into nursing homes. Some people choose to pay the cost out of pocket until they run out of money and become eligible for Medicaid to pick up the ongoing expense. Others elect to purchase long-term care insurance to pay for needed care. An elder law attorney may discuss the different options with the elderly person and the loved ones so that they can choose the option that will work best for them.
Older adults deserve to be treated with respect and to enjoy good qualities of life. Elder law attorneys may help them to plan for their golden years and advocate for them to receive the best care possible. To learn more about how we might be able to help, call us today to schedule a consultation.
Thomas & Pinnacoli Law
Estate Planning & Administration, Tax & Elder Law Firm
27 SE Ocean Blvd
Stuart, Florida 34994
Tel: (772) 324-5656
Fax: (772) 210-1272
415 Wyoming Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
Tel: (570) 963-8880
Fax: (570) 963-9372