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Due to improved health care, diet and lifestyle changes, people today are living longer than ever before. This also means more and more people will spend a portion of their lives in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. The reality is that a majority of us will need long-term care at some point in our lifetime and 20 percent of us will require long-term care for five years or more.

Nursing home care in Kansas and Missouri can easily cost $60,000 or more every year and the costs continue to rise at rates outpacing the general rate of inflation. Virtually all of the experts predict that the annual cost of nursing home care will more than double over the next twenty years. When you couple this with the ever-increasing life spans of adults, this translates into more years of care at increasingly higher rates.

Fortunately, Medicaid assistance is available to pay for nursing home care. Applying for Medicaid benefits, however, is complicated and can be very confusing and overwhelming. Worse yet, should you make a mistake in the application process or improperly gift or transfer assets through the process of attempting to meet the Medicaid eligibility spend-down rules, you may cause a significant delay in the start of Medicaid benefits or potentially even lose your ability to qualify for benefits altogether.

Qualifying For Medicaid And Asset Preservation

Medicaid requirements vary from state to state and each state specifies a maximum allowed income for individuals and couples in order to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, the value of the applicant's total assets cannot exceed a specified amount called the Individual Resource Allowance, which in Kansas is currently $2,000 and only $999.99 in Missouri for individual applicants. Although certain items of property, such as an individual's primary residence and their car, are sometimes "exempted" for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility, this figure is still quite concerning. If the Medicaid applicant is married, the process becomes more complicated as it requires going through what is referred to as a division of assets to reduce the spouse's Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance.

So what can be done if the value of an applicant's "non-exempt" assets exceed the $119,220 Community Resource Allowance limit? If the applicant gives away their extra assets (which might seem like an obvious choice) the applicant will encounter more significant problems as they would have just violated Medicaid's Transfer Penalty and may find that they are now disqualified from receiving Medicaid Benefits for years, depending on how much they gave away.

If your need for nursing home care is immediate, time is not something you can afford to lose. Why? If you wait too long and your non-exempt assets fall below the maximum $119,220 limit, then the applicant's spouse can only keep half of what is left.

At Stockton & Stern, LLC, we can help. Our elder law and estate planning attorneys can develop asset protection plans that effectively reduce the size of your estate, allowing you to qualify for Medicaid and leave an inheritance. We do this through a combination of exemption planning, strategic gifting, irrevocable trust development and other Medicaid planning strategies.

However, it is important to think ahead. Medicaid has a five-year look back. Any gifts or distributions to trusts made within five years of entering a nursing home will not be protected. The best way to preserve your assets is to meet with our elder care team before you need long-term care services.

Don't Compromise Your Eligibility For Medicaid

Compromising your eligibility for Medicaid can be financially devastating, not only for you and your spouse, but your loved ones as well. The experienced elder law attorneys at Stockton & Stern, LLC can alleviate the stress and confusion involved in applying for Medicaid benefits as well as other programs designed to protect our senior population. Our attorneys plan to ensure that our clients have sufficient assets to provide for their needs and the needs of their family and loved ones over the remainder of their lives.

At Stockton & Stern, LLC, our firm helps elderly individuals throughout both Kansas and Missouri plan, apply for and obtain the Medicaid coverage they need to ensure that they are cared for in their golden years.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

For more information about Medicaid planning and for application assistance, contact our firm. Call us at 913-856-2828 or 913-856-2828 for a free consultation.