Can I Engage In Medicaid Planning If I Have A Lot Of Money?
The answer is yes. The way the Medicaid laws are written, essentially anybody can qualify for the Medicaid program. When considering whether obtaining Medicaid benefits is desirable for a high-net worth client, the true questions is not whether they will qualify for the Medicaid program, but rather, is it worth it? With extremely high net worth clients, there may be more desirable alternatives to ensure long term care needs are met. If the client is younger, many times an appropriate long-term care policy will achieve desired results without requiring that the client structure and transfer assets to ensure qualification for the Medicaid program. However, even in instances when a client is high net worth individual, if the client is relatively healthy, will not likely require long term care for at least five years and is comfortable parting with absolute control and ownership of their assets, Medicaid planning can be more cost effective that purchasing a long-term care policy.
As suggested above, with high net worth clients, the desire to engage in Medicaid planning often turns upon whether the client is comfortable parting with control and ownership of their assets. As in typical in Medicaid planning, Medicaid Asset Protection Trust are commonly used to ensure qualification for Medicaid benefits. While Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts can be individually tailored, to be effective, the client must part with ownership and full control of all assets transferred into the Trust. While this may seem like a scary suggestion at first, a skilled Elder Law attorney can build certain provisions into the Trust to ensure the client’s Trustees and beneficiaries are willing to access assets transferred into the Trust if the client directs them to do so. While the terms of the Trust would require and obligate the Trustee and beneficiaries not to access Trust assets and pay these assets to the client, the client can retain the right to remove and change Trustees and beneficiaries if they are not cooperative with legitimate and well-advised client requests.
In creating these individually tailored Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts for high net worth clients, the goal is always to ensure maximum asset protection while allowing the client the greatest amount of flexibility and control over the Trust. In short, the goal is the allow the client to have his cake and eat it to.
Do I Need An Attorney When Applying For Medicaid?
The short answer is no, but that could be said of any situation. Does anybody ever really need an attorney? While the answer may be no, the better question is “is it a good idea to hire an attorney when applying for Medicaid.” The answer to this question is almost always a resounding yes.
If a would-be client has any questions about the Medicaid application process, were happy to provide a free, no obligation, half hour consult to discuss the process and let the potential client decide whether hiring an attorney is advisable.
While a potential client does not necessarily require an attorney to assist in the Medicaid application process, it’s always a good decision to at least meet with an Elder Law attorney and decide whether the cost of hiring an attorney outweighs the risk of applying without an attorney. While the application process may seem simple on paper, it is anything but simple. The greatest risk a would-be client runs when opting to submit the application without the assistance of an Elder Law Attorney is the missed opportunity to structure assets in the most advantageous way. So even though an application could be submitted without an attorney, and Medicaid benefits could be received without the help of an attorney, may potential clients fail to consider how structing assets may have adverse tax and Estate recovery consequence. In short, going it alone often ends up with a “penny wise and pound foolish” result.
If a person decides to go it alone, they don’t get the comfort that comes with knowing you have a professional who understands this complicated practice area and who has practiced in this area for a number of years. The “do it yourselfers” also do not have anybody to ask questions to if a question arises. The local Medicaid agencies are, by and large, unavailable to answer any questions which need answers. If a question arises, an applicant without an attorney either has to conduct the legal research needed to answer the question or make an educated guess. Well intentioned, educated guesses frequently result in undesired consequence, and these consequences can rarely be avoided after an educated guess proves wrong. Furthermore, the consequences of an incorrect educated guess can cost an applicant dearly. If an applicant makes a prohibited transfer, his or her application for Medicaid benefits can be denied, resulting in the applicant having to pay the cost of care for several months or even years. With the cost of nursing home care in Nassau County, Suffolk County and Queens County running approximately $12,000 per month, one little mistake can add up to a large nursing home bill.
Even assuming the little mistake causes an applicant to be denied Medicaid benefits for 1 month, simply compare the $12,000 nursing home bill to an attorney’s fee of approximately $6,500 to help with the process. Not only is the applicant better off financially hiring an attorney, but they have the comfort and guidance of knowing they have someone to assist and advise them during the entire process. So, in short, the true question is this: do you want an attorney to assist in applying for Medicaid benefits, and the answers is most likely yes.
How Much Does It Cost To Use Or Hire An Attorney For Medicaid Planning In New York?
The cost at our firm to engage in Elder Care Medicaid planning, which would include preparing a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy and Living Will for the client, as well as drafting a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust for the client and working with the client’s investment professionals, bankers, tax professionals and other individuals to ensure that assets are appropriately transferred to ensure qualification for the Medicaid program ranges from $3,500.00 on the low end to approximately $10,000.00 on the high end.
In some instances, we offer a flat fee arrangement, which caps legal fees at an agreed to amount. In other, more complicated matters, an hourly rate is charged.