So, you’re one of the few people who understand that 70% of individuals over 65 will need long-term care. You also understand that figure to mean that you have a 70% chance of paying tens of thousands of dollars a month in long-term care. Lastly, you’re someone who’s worked hard their whole lives and you don’t want to see everything you worked hard for go to some facility. Thus, you know that you should plan to use Medicaid to pay for long-term care. The only issue is, how do you qualify?
Before we talk about qualification, let’s clear the air. First, Medicaid is a system that you’ve contributed to your whole life. It’s not assistance, it’s reimbursement. Second, those who have Medicaid pay for their long-term care are not forced to some “Medicaid facility.” That’s a myth.
Now that we’ve cleared the air, lets talk assets. Take stock of your assets and break them down into the following categories: 1. Financial Assets e.g. cash, accounts, investments; 2. Real property; 3. Titled personal property; and 4. Other miscellaneous assets e.g. businesses and business equipment. The following rules apply to those categories:
Finances or financial assets (not counting income unreceived) is considered to be a countable asset for Medicaid purposes. This means that it is an available resource that Medicaid would “count against” the applicant.
Real Property: Real property is generally considered to be a countable asset except for the following: a. the personal residence (where the applicant intends to remain or intends to return) ; b. life estate interests; and c. tenants in common interests, also known as a less than 100% interest in property.
Business interests: Businesses are countable assets; however, the working capital, inventory, and equipment do not count. Thus, the business’s value is what is countable.
Personal Items: personal items are generally not countable unless they are a titled asset, or they are some sort of currency or currency equivalent like gold or silver. With respect to titled assets, an applicant and spouse is allowed to own ONE vehicle.
Note that the applicant can only have up to $2,000.00 worth of countable assets in their name. The applicant’s spouse can only have up to roughly $126,800.00 worth of countable assets in their name.
So, what can you do if you’re over the threshold? The answer is: it depends. It’s different depending on whether you’re in a crisis i.e. need care immediately or if you’re pre-planning. If you’re pre-planning you have many options. Some of those options may be trusts or certain deed work that can exempt your property from being considered a countable asset.
If you’re in a crisis situation, then the plan is a little different. There are many options that you can use spend-down the countable assets while preserving the value. If you have questions about Medicaid Qualification, call the experienced attorneys at McIntyre Elder Law (704) 259-7040.
Brenton S. Begley
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
“We help seniors maintain their lifestyle and preserve their legacies.”