The cost of long-term nursing home care in South Florida continues to increase. Many people believe they have too many assets to qualify for government assistance – but they are often wrong. Many people pay out-of-pocket for their long-term care until their nest egg is depleted. But with careful Medicaid Planning, you may be able to receive the financial help to cover expensive nursing home care that you or a loved one need without losing your assets. Medicaid Planning is the use of legal tools and techniques to help individuals qualify for Medicaid benefits. Instead of paying for expensive nursing care from your hard-earned nest egg and depleting your net worth, you can hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney to protect your life savings and assets, while still qualifying for federal healthcare benefits. The cost to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney is an investment in retaining your assets while qualifying for the benefits you are entitled to.
It’s helpful to look at the cost of a Medicaid planning attorney in terms of value provided instead of cash spent. If the Medicaid qualification process was simple to understand and follow, you wouldn’t need to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney. However, realistically, the chances of submitting inadequate documentation and not declaring assets correctly may compromise your eligibility.
In Florida, only a licensed Elder Law Attorney is allowed to practice Elder Law and Medicaid Planning. Below are some frequently asked questions about the cost to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney and the benefits they provide.
FAQs About the Cost to Hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney
How do I know if I need help to qualify for Medicaid?
Under normal circumstances, it’s generally advisable to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney at least five years before you begin retirement. It can be a complex process when an individual’s monthly income or assets exceed financial eligibility limits. Another complicating factor is when one spouse requires long-term care, but the other can still live independently.
While incomes and assets can be converted into non-countable assets, these transactions take time and require both legal and financial expertise. Figuring out how to divide and transfer these assets is a common challenge solved with an attorney’s help.
Why should I hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney?
No one should apply for Medicaid until they have a proper plan in place to qualify. Applying too early may cause a longer wait to qualify than necessary, while applying too late may require having to fork out sums of money to pay for the care you may never have needed to spend money on.
Moreover, not having your assets structured properly may result in a denied application. Hiring a Florida Medicaid Planning Attorney ensures your application is followed correctly in accordance with the law, speeds up the process, and reduces administrative stress.
What is the difference between a countable and non-countable asset?
There’s often a misinformed panic around losing assets or having to sell one’s home. The state of Florida assesses a person’s income and countable assets to determine their financial eligibility to qualify for Medicaid.
Countable assets include:
- Certificates of deposit
- Stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts
- Checking and savings accounts
- Non-homestead real estate
- Secondary vehicles
- Cash value of life insurance if it exceeds $2500
Non-countable assets include:
- A primary home and vehicle
- Income-producing properties
- Pre-purchased funeral plans
- Personal property and household belongings
- Life insurance policies with no cash value
- Up to $1,500 in cash set aside for burial
Do I have to sell my home to qualify for Medicaid?
Your home may be considered a homestead under Florida law and an excluded asset for Medicaid qualification. In the event of death, an attorney can ensure your estate plan is properly structured to protect your homestead from Medicaid recovery, meaning that it won’t be used to pay for healthcare costs.
What determines the cost to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney?
There are various factors that influence the cost of hiring a Medicaid Planning Attorney in South Florida, such as;
- Marital status
- The applicant’s age
- A spouse’s and children’s age and health statutes
- The applicants’ financial status in terms of assets and income
- The urgency of the application
- Receiving gifts in the form of assets
- The existence of estate planning documents
How do Medicaid Planning Attorneys calculate their fees?
An attorney’s fee reflects their expertise that helps a family save money. They can either ask for a retainer, which they bill against hourly, or they can charge a flat fee. Most clients prefer the second option because they feel uncomfortable with an undefined cost.
For average cases, it’s not unheard of for attorneys to charge approximately one month’s nursing home bill for devising an asset and income protection strategy. Naturally, the more complicated the work, the higher the fee. Most attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, while others charge a small fee.
According to the American Council on Aging, Medicaid Planning fees can range from $300 — $600 per hour or from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the state. Naturally, it’s difficult to quote upfront without knowing a client’s specific details and needs.
What is the difference between Medicaid pre-planning and crisis planning?
Pre-planning allows you to identify palatable solutions as early as possible to ensure the best possible outcome to your Medicaid application. For instance, you can set up trusts, draft living wills, give monetary gifts or set up estate plans to qualify for and receive Medicaid benefits.
Crisis planning involves having to plan and/or apply for Medicaid during an unexpected health emergency. For example, a family member has a serious accident that requires specialized care or a parent displays early signs of dementia. In both cases, a Medicaid Planning Attorney can help.
People have limited control of the timing and costs of their healthcare, and whether they will require long-term nursing home care. Individuals who want to protect their assets and prepare for the future should prepare for all eventualities to take advantage of Medicaid laws and benefits. The cost of hiring a Medicaid Planning Attorney may seem like an unexpected expense, but it is actually an investment in your they can devise a strategic plan to preserve your legacy and health whose priceless value far exceeds initial attorney fees.
EXPERIENCED AND TRUSTED SOUTH FLORIDA MEDICAID PLANNING ATTORNEY
The cost to hire a Medicaid Planning Attorney is an investment to protect your assets for your loved one. With 20 years of Medicaid Planning experience, South Florida Attorney Barry D. Siegel at The Siegel Law Group, P.A., knows firsthand what can happen if you are unprepared for life’s greatest challenges. A knowledgeable Medicaid Planning Lawyer can provide legal guidance throughout the Medicaid process.