If you don’t have a plan for your assets when it comes time for nursing home care, they can be at risk. Begin planning now for the expenses of senior living. The first step is to consider the role of Medicaid in paying for nursing home services.  WRCB’s recent article describes the way in which Medicaid helps pay for nursing homes and what you can do to shield your assets.

Some confuse what Medicare and Medicaid can do for you when it comes to nursing home care.  Medicare does cover a stay in a skilled nursing facility for convalescence. However, it doesn’t pay for full-time residence in a nursing home. Only people who are on Medicaid can receive assistance on nursing home costs.

Those who don’t qualify for Medicaid when they need nursing home care may become eligible after their savings are depleted.  It is also important to remember that when a Medicaid recipient dies, the government may recoup the benefits provided for nursing home care from the estate. Family members may discover that this will impact their inheritance. To avoid this, look at these ways to protect assets from nursing home expenses.

Give Away Assets. Giving loved ones your assets as gifts can help keep them from being taken by the government when you die. However, there may be tax consequences and could render you Medicaid ineligible if you transferred assets in the five years before you apply for benefits. Finally, assets gifted to loved ones directly now belong to them, so if they experience money issues, get sued or divorced, or die, those assets could disappear.

Create an Irrevocable Trust. When assets are placed in an irrevocable trust, they can no longer belong to you because you name an independent trustee. Assets transferred to a carefully drafted trust are also not the property of the persons named as trust beneficiaries, so their creditors cannot reach the assets either. The five year lookback still applies to transfers to a trust, so you need to start thinking about trust transfers early enough to avoid any penalty.

But don’t try any of theses ways before first contacting an elder law, estate planning or Medicaid planning attorney.  Only they will be able to help you correctly plan for the nursing home.  Plus, the sooner you get it done, the more of the inheritance you will be able to protect for your loved ones.

Reference: WRCB (Dayton) (Sep. 4, 2020) “How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Homes”