Unfortunately, people often do not know what Medicaid planning is nor why it is needed until they suddenly need to qualify for Medicaid. At that point they find themselves asking “ Is it too late for me to incorporate Medicaid planning into my estate plan? ” The answer to that question is that it is rarely too late to incorporate at least some Medicaid planning strategies into your estate plan; however, it is always best to start planning early on when possible so that you can maximize the benefits of Medicaid planning.
The term “Medicaid planning” refers to the incorporation of strategies and tools into your estate plan that will help you qualify for Medicaid without losing hard earned assets at some time in the future. If you have never relied on Medicaid benefits in the past you may wonder why you would need them in the future. That question is easy enough to answer. Like a significant portion of the elderly population you, or a spouse, may need long-term care at some point. At an average yearly cost of close to $100,000, paying for that care may be a significant financial burden. Unfortunately, people often realize too late that neither Medicare nor their own private healthcare insurance will cover long-term care costs, leaving Medicaid as the only option.
While Medicaid will help pay for long-term care, qualifying for Medicaid benefits can be problematic if you failed to plan ahead by incorporating Medicaid planning into your estate plan early on in your life. The reason for this is that eligibility for Medicaid depends, in part, on an applicant having income and countable resources below the program limits. With a $2,000 resources limit it is easy to see how many seniors do not initially qualify. Only after they “spend-down” their resources do they qualify. The goal of Medicaid planning is to protect those assets while putting you in a position to qualify immediately for Medicaid should you need it at some point down the road.
If you did not include Medicaid planning early on, however, it may not be too late to protect at least some of your assets. The key at this point is to consult with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney immediately to see what can be done at this point. Sometimes, for example, a “countable” asset can be converted into an exempt asset which will protect the asset yet still allow you to qualify for much needed benefits.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning, or your Illinois estate plan in general, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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