By: Rocky Mountain Wills & Trusts

Consumers Guide to Medicaid Planning and Asset Preservation

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The decision to turn to a nursing home or an assisted living facility is never an easy choice to make. We want to believe that family members should stay with their loved ones all throughout their twilight years. However, sometimes the conditions of their care are simply too great for those of us who are either untrained or otherwise unable to provide adequate time and care to those in need. In these situations, often, we must make the decision to entrust a loved one’s care to professionals and move them into a facility.

However, just because the decision has been made does not mean that your troubles are over. Regardless of how necessary their services may be, the costs for residency at a nursing home in America can be extreme.

Medicaid benefits can help pay for nursing home care. However, it may require careful planning to ensure that assets are not seized by Medicaid in return for paying for those services.

Medicare or Medicaid?

While some people may have the funds to pay for nursing homes, many of us do not. And while long-term care insurance is becoming more a popular element in estate planning and asset protection, again, not everyone can afford this.

Medicare provides only short-term assistance for nursing home costs, usually only up to 100 days, and may not provide benefits for people stricken with certain diseases. And to get even that minimal amount of care, one must pass a strict set of qualifications.

Medicaid offers long-term assistance for nursing home costs, so long as a state-required asset and income tests are met. In Colorado, Medicaid requirements ask that recipients have only $2,000 worth of countable resources. However, many assets are exempt from being counted against you in these tests.

What Assets May Be Kept and Which Are Considered Non-Exempt?

In Colorado, certain assets are exempt from being counted against the $2,000 limit. These exempt assets include:

  • A family home is exempt for a married couple so long as there is an established intent to return to the home after the nursing homestay
  • Household goods and personal property should be exempt
  • Wedding and engagement rings are exempt, regardless of their value
  • One motor vehicle is exempt, regardless of its value, so long as it is in use
  • Required medical equipment
  • Health insurance policies with a value of $1,500 or less

Cash and savings, individual retirement plans, certain trusts, stocks, recreational vehicles, additional automobiles, or pieces of real property may be counted against the $2,000 limit.

Can You Give Assets Away?

It is possible to give away assets in an attempt to obtain Medicaid eligibility, but this must be done right. Colorado law has penalties against those who simply give away assets in an attempt to obtain certain benefits. Contact our law firm today at (720) 420-1039 to learn more about how we can help you with your situation.