The cost of elder care in the United States, and New England in particular, could bankrupt many families in a matter of months without financial planning and the help of government assistance. If an older person is in need of long-term care services in Rhode Island, approval for Medicaid can save them and their family hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, Medicaid eligibility can be complicated to understand and eligibility challenging to obtain. For this reason, many people seek the help of financial or legal professionals to structure their assets in a way to both secure Medicaid eligibility and protect their assets from encumbrance or sale.
In order for someone to be eligible for Medicaid assistance, their countable assets and income must fall below a certain threshold. Legal professionals can assist their clients by creating trusts and using other estate planning strategies to meet the asset and income thresholds and secure Medicaid eligibility. In the vast majority of cases, the cost of Medicaid planning will be substantially less than the amount of money saved by securing Medicaid eligibility to cover long-term care expenses.
Depending on a Medicaid applicant’s marital status, the value of a primary home may or may not be counted toward the Medicaid eligibility cap. If one spouse does not need long term care, a marital home will not be counted toward the asset limit; however, the federal government may be able to place a lien on a property and recoup some of the assistance from the spouse’s estate down the line. Couples seeking to protect their estate for children or other heirs, as well as single homeowners in need of long term care, may be able to create certain types of trusts to keep their home from being counted or taken by the government while still maintaining Medicaid eligibility.
In addition to planning for Medicaid eligibility, estate planning can be used to preserve assets for those looking to pass down property to their heirs even while facing excessive end-of-life expenses. Strategic estate planning is most successful when done far in advance of serious illness, so it is best for aging parents to start estate planning early to ensure their assets are protected. It can be tempting to simply transfer assets to heirs in advance of an estate resolution, and that may be a useful tool to protect the assets; however, there may be simpler or safer strategies to protect assets using the help of a legal professional with experience in trusts and estates.
Finding a Rhode Island Trust and Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is looking into long-term care, a holistic Rhode Island estate planning strategy can help ensure you can afford appropriate care and protect your assets for your heirs. Medicaid planning is only one part of an effective estate plan. The Rhode Island trust and estate attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can help you prepare your estate to protect your assets in the event you need long-term care. We can also help with other aspects of your estate plan, including preparing wills and trusts. Call us to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed trust and estate planning attorneys. Contact our offices at 401-300-4055 today.