** This article has been revised from its original version which was published on March…
4 Reasons to Use an Elder Law Attorney for Medicaid Planning
As elder law attorneys, we meet with clients and help them create a plan for their future; many of these plans include planning for long-term care.
We discuss options for long-term care—such as long-term care insurance, private pay, and Medicaid. For most seniors, obtaining Medicaid to pay for nursing home care or care at home is a must. Very few people can afford to pay privately for extended long-term care, which is not covered by Medicare.
However, when it comes time to submit a Medicaid application, many seniors and their families choose to either submit it on their own or enlist non-lawyers to help with the application—often because they are afraid of the legal fees.
Here are a few reasons to use an elder law attorney instead:
- Saving Money – With nursing homes costing anywhere from $12,000 – $16,000 a month in New York, every day is valuable. Experienced elder law attorneys do not learn at your expense; they make sure the work is completed properly the first time, so that valuable time and money is not wasted. Also, it is typical that the legal fees are less than one month in the facility. Hiring an elder law attorney can ultimately save thousands of dollars in long-term care costs, as well as probate costs in the future.
- No Conflict of Interest – When nursing homes refer families of residents to non-lawyers to assist in preparing a Medicaid application, the preparer often has loyalties to both the facility that provided the referral and to the client applying for benefits. It’s in the nursing home’s interest that the nursing home privately pays—for as long as possible—before receiving aid from Medicaid. On the contrary, it is in the resident’s interest to preserve assets for care, spouse, and/or family. An attorney hired by the resident or their family to aid in the Medicaid planning and application has a duty of loyalty only to their client and will do their best to achieve the client’s goals.
- Experience and Knowledge – Professionals who work in a particular field on a daily basis, for many years, develop experience and knowledge managing the most complicated situations. This acquired knowledge is important when helping clients to achieve their goals; whether those are maintaining independence and dignity at home, preserving funds for children and grandchildren, or remaining at home rather than moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home. When it comes to planning, there is no replacement for experience; our experience is your protection.
- Peace of Mind – By meeting with an elder law attorney, you can rest assured knowing that all options for preserving assets and achieving goals have been met. In almost all situations, assets can be protected while still qualifying for Medicaid. The elder law attorney can also assist in the nursing home placement and advise the client as to his/her rights in the nursing home. In addition, should obstacles arise during the process, the attorney will be there to work with you to find a resolution.
Medicaid rules provide multiple opportunities for those receiving care, whether in a nursing home or at home, to preserve assets for themselves, their spouses, children and grandchildren, especially those with special needs. Planning ahead is always recommended, as there are more opportunities available when not in crisis mode. However, even at the last minute, there are almost always steps available to preserve some assets.
It is always worth meeting with an attorney to explore which options are available to you. Contact us with questions or comments.
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