An Elder Law Attorney is an advocate for the elderly and their loved ones. Most lawyers specializing in elder law handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and other important matters.
What is the difference between elder law and estate planning?
Elder Law is the practice of planning for disposition of assets and other affairs while a person is still living but may require care or protection of assets. With estate planning, an attorney helps you implement a plan of what will happen to your assets after your death.
An elder law attorney can provide assistance with any one or more of the following:
- Help with the preservation or transfer of a person’s assets, whether they are single or married.
- Assist those already on Medicaid in preserving assets and avoiding the Michigan Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.
- Guide with selection and appointment of a legal guardian.
- Prepare estate planning documents.
- Assist with long-term care placement in senior living communities and nursing homes.
- Handle Medicare and Social Security appeals and claims.
- Assist in cases of elder abuse and fraud.
Q: Will Medicare pay for a long-term stay in a nursing facility?
A: Generally, Medicare covers only up to 100 days of “skilled nursing care” (20 full-pay days and an additional 80 co-pay days).
Q: Must a nursing home resident spend down all assets, including the home, before he/she can get Medicaid?
A: No. Generally, a person can retain one house, one car and $2,000 in countable assets while on the Medicaid Program. If the applicant is married, the community spouse (a spouse not in the nursing home) is provided spousal impoverishment protections that allow him/her to retain some marital assets.
Q: Can a Medicaid applicant gift all of their assets to a spouse or child and immediately qualify for Medicaid?
A: Generally, there is a penalty if you transfer assets within five years of applying for Medicaid; however, there are exemptions to this rule.
Q: To qualify for Medicaid, can I hide or not disclose my assets on the application?
A: Intentionally lying on a Medicaid application is a crime – don’t do it!
Q: Can the Michigan Medicaid Estate Recovery Program take my home after I die?
A: Through this program, states recoup expenses paid for long-term care from the estates of individuals over the age of 55 who received Medicaid assistance. Estate recovery comes into play only after the death of a person who was eligible for Medicaid assistance and received long-term care Medicaid benefits.
Q: Is a nursing home the only option to obtain care while on Medicaid?
A: There are several care options that are funded by Medicaid or a Medicaid supplement program. For example, Medicaid can pay for part of nursing home costs, while the
MI Choice Waiver Program and PACE Program can assist with paying for in-home care or some assisted living home-care.
Q: Can I plan and apply for Medicaid myself?
A: Medicaid is a complicated program to understand and apply for; making a mistake on the application could be costly and detrimental to one’s estate. To assist with this process, I recommend contacting an Elder Law Attorney; it will save you time, money and headache.
*Disclaimer: The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based on any information in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice. This article contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content herein.