If you have a loved one who has recently suffered a medical emergency that may require them to obtain long-term care, chances are you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. It’s only natural—you are concerned for your loved one’s well-being and are dealing with all the emotions that go along with facing unknown outcomes, as well as trying to find them the best care possible care. Perhaps you are also tasked with handling your loved one’s finances and are concerned that the cost of their care will be too much for your family to handle without losing everything they have worked so hard to achieve.
In Massachusetts a nursing homes stay can cost anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000 per year. It goes without saying, therefore, that a long-term nursing home stay can easily impoverish all but the wealthiest of families. MassHealth’s restrictive asset limits allow care recipients to keep only a very small amount of their assets while the nursing home keeps the rest. With proper planning, however, no one has to be wiped out by a nursing home stay.
Naturally, planning ahead for long-term care offers the most options, but life doesn’t always go according to plan. If your loved one is either already in the nursing home or will need to be admitted soon, don’t panic—there are still options.
Many legal issues are the consequence of a sudden and unexpected event, and clients often come to me needing immediate crisis planning. As a result, I focus on providing attentive and compassionate legal counsel; guiding you through every step in the legal process while protecting your interests and asserting your rights as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Although advanced planning is best, I urge my clients to explore all their options in the unfortunate event that a family member needs emergency care. Even if you are denied Medicaid coverage and are being required to pay nursing home expenses out-of-pocket, you may be able to save a significant portion of your assets by having your Medicaid application reviewed by an experienced attorney. In many instances, you may be able to adjust your estate plan or appeal the denial to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
MassHealth Planning Options
If the person needing long-term care is married, assets can be transferred within the MassHealth asset limits to the spouse still living in the community. These transfers must follow specific protocols, and new wills should be drafted for the spouses so that if the community spouse predeceases the nursing home client, an inheritance will not end up disqualifying them for care.
Another technique that can be used to shelter assets for people already in a nursing home involves the use of an annuity. An annuity is a financial device that converts assets into income. In the case of a married couple, the income can be directed to the healthy spouse and can thus be protected from being spent down. In the case of a single person, the annuity can get the person eligible for Medicaid right away and can stretch out how long the person’s money lasts. The law surrounding annuities is complex, and MassHealth imposes specific requirements on their use.
There is no “one size fits all” solution for emergency MassHealth planning, but anyone with a loved one in a nursing home who is interested in preserving their assets should speak with an elder law attorney to discuss the options available to them. Call now for a free no-obligation consultation and let us take at least one worry off of your plate.
You can learn more about obtaining MassHealth eligibility and applying for long-term care benefits on our regularly updated bog, here.