Discussions around Medicaid planning in Florida often contain misunderstandings. Misinformation spreads like wildfire and over the years replaces the truth when it comes to qualifying and applying for Medicaid. The reality is that many Floridians miss out on Medicaid planning benefits, causing unnecessary stress and financial loss.
We’ve sat down to list the top myths about Medicaid planning in Florida, so you can start planning with the facts, and no fear:
Disclaimer: The information below is for introductory purposes only and should never be used to aid with decision-making. Please consult a Florida elder law attorney before taking any action.
Common Medicaid Planning Misunderstandings
I Need to Sell My Home and Assets to Qualify for Medicaid in Florida
Incorrect. In Florida, a homestead is exempt from Medicaid asset calculations, so long as you intend to return. There is no special formula to show intention. Because of Florida’s strict homestead laws, your home is protected from most creditors, including medical creditors, so you won’t be forced to sell your home unless for very limited circumstances.
You also don’t need to give away all your assets if you plan your estate plan properly. There are various legal strategies for restructuring how your assets are owned, so you don’t have to say goodbye to your life savings and assets. Please speak to our Florida Medicaid attorneys to find out more.
I Have to Spend All My Money to Qualify for Medicaid
Many people think the only way to qualify for Medicaid is to ‘spend down’ to less than $2000 in assets. Don’t do this. Consider asset protection and legal strategies, that within Medicaid rules, can allow you to secure your property, assets and wealth for your family while still securing Medicaid eligibility.
This is particularly important for people who live in assisted living facilities. The goal should be to use an individual’s income, Medicaid funds, and a minimal amount of savings, if needed, to pay for expenses at an assisted living facility. The more savings one is able to preserve, the longer they can continue to live at an assisted living facility. Spending down assets to $2000 can greatly restrict one’s ability to maintain their expenses in the long-run.
From trusts to loans, to the purchase of annuities and long-term care insurance there are dozens of ways we can help you get the long-term care you or your loved one need.
It’s Too Late for Medicaid, If You’re in a Nursing Home
It’s never too late! Medicaid planning in Florida can start even when an elderly individual is in a nursing home. This is especially true for married couples with one spouse still living at home.
Nursing home patients can still benefit from asset protection and restriction to help them qualify for Medicaid at a short notice.
If I Transfer All My Money to My Spouse, Then I’ll Qualify for Medicaid
No! The assets of the spouse and the applicant will be counted for financial eligibility consideration. So you can’t just have your spouse take all your money and assets. There is a type of planning strategy that will allow an applicant to transfer their assets to their spouse to qualify, but careful consideration will have to go into which assets should be transferred and how such transfers should be indicated in a Medicaid application. There also must be an estate planning aspect should the Medicaid recipient outlive the healthy spouse.
Gifting of Any Kind Puts a Limit on Medicaid Qualification
Things are more complex than that. Yes, there is a Medicaid look-back period for gifts made in the past five years, but not all gifts result in the same penalties or disqualification. Families that are charitable or enjoy gifting can continue to do so only after certain measures are taken by careful estate planning.
By working with an experienced Florida Medicaid attorney, you can create an estate plan that allows you to make gifts when and as needed to avoid incurring penalization.
Assets Owned By Living Trusts are Immune to Nursing Homes
While assets held in trust can be used for asset protection, those in living trusts are still at risk of being used for nursing home costs and financial eligibility determination. There are different types of trusts that can be created for asset protection and that will be immune from the eligibility determination process, but careful planning must be done to preserve assets for your loved ones and allow a certain level of access should the need arise. Not all trusts are the same, and the legal specifics are important and always scrutinized during the application process.
To protect your assets through a trust, please contact our Florida Medicaid attorneys so we can find the optimal strategy for you.
You Can Hide Your Assets
No, you should never intentionally hide or lie about your assets when applying for Medicaid. However, you can do a perfectly legal restructuring of your assets to protect them from long-term care costs. Never hide, instead consult with a reputable estate planning lawyer.
I Shouldn’t Try to Apply Because My Friend Failed
We urge you to understand that every Florida Medicaid case is different due to changing rules and each applicant’s unique circumstances. What applied to your friend 3 years ago may well not be the case anymore, and they also may not have planned their estate in an optimal manner.
Before giving up, always speak to an experienced Florida Medicaid attorney. The more information you provide, the more planning can be done to ensure smooth sailing.
I Don’t Need or Qualify for Medicaid, Because I Have Medicare
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Yes, Medicare provides health coverage for those over 65, but it rarely covers long-term care and nursing home care expenses. Medicare will only pay a certain number of days before it stops paying and all expenses will have to be paid out of pocket.
Medicaid can be a helping hand so you avoid paying the higher cost of long-term care. The earlier you plan, the better. It is important to have the discussion on how you will plan for Medicaid before a life-altering event lands someone in a nursing home.
If you’re unsure how you can qualify, consult a Florida Medicaid lawyer.
The Patient Will Be Discharged from the Nursing Home If They Switch from Private Pay to Medicaid
Those who enter nursing homes cannot be discharged when changing from private pay to Medicaid. But you should always ask the facility if they accept Medicaid patients if you are planning to start as a private paying one. That way, you’ll avoid nasty surprises.
Medicaid Patients Are Treated Worse than Private Pay Patients
We understand that this might seem a logical thought, but that’s where our good ol’ friend ‘law’ comes in to save the day.
Discrimination and changes in level of care due to the source of payment is prohibited under federal law. Rest assured, the nurses and employees of these facilities are compassionate individuals who should not care about where your money came from when providing nursing home care.
I Can Medicaid Plan without Professional Help
It’s not advised that you Medicaid plan alone. At a nursing home, you may be assisted by a social worker, but even then the support is limited.
Social workers don’t have the legal knowledge or qualifications to help you preserve assets while still retaining Medicaid qualification.
That’s where a Medicaid attorney can help. We use strategies that are optimized for your family while considering routes and options that you may have never even known about without a consultation.
Mistakes at this point can cost you thousands of dollars a month, so paying for professional legal help now is always the wiser strategy.
Hire a Medicaid Attorney in Riverview
If you or a loved one need to plan or apply for Medicaid, our Florida Medicaid planning lawyers can help. We advise that you start the planning process as early as possible, especially if you anticipate the need for long-term care.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning, experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you plan for the future today.