WHY IS MEDICAID PLANNING NECESSARY?
The average cost of skilled nursing care in Florida is over $100,000 annually, and assisted living care is nearly $40,000 a year. Unless significant private funds or a comprehensive longterm care insurance policy are available, these costs are more than most seniors can afford without quickly depleting their resources. No one should be pauperized just to meet their basic living expenses and healthcare needs. An experienced elder law attorney can help navigate the maze of Medicaid regulations and qualify the client for benefits while preserving assets, both to supplement the care needs of the client as well as to provide a legacy for future generations.
WHAT IS MEDICAID PLANNING?
There are two types of Medicaid planning: longterm care planning and crisis planning. Longterm care planning is appropriate when there is no immediate need for Medicaid benefits. A plan may then be implemented with the goal of preserving assets and qualifying the client for benefits in the future, when needed. Crisis planning is required when benefits must be obtained immediately, such as when a client faces imminent placement in an ALF or skilled nursing facility. The goal is then to qualify the client for Medicaid quickly while preserving as much of the client's available assets as possible.
There are four steps to Medicaid planning:
An initial consultation to assess the client’s needs, inform the client about available public benefit programs, discuss the planning process in greater detail, and answer the client’s questions about available benefits or the planning process.
Gather the information necessary to provide a written Medicaid plan. Every client is unique, and eligibility for benefits is dependent upon specific biographical, financial, and health-related factors. The elder law attorney will need to reference detailed information as it relates to both the client's present circumstances and their life history. This information-gathering process must be a joint effort of both the elder law attorney and the client (or the client's representative), and the client's active assistance is required in order to gather the information necessary to prepare an appropriate and successful plan.
Provide the client with a written Medicaid plan containing the client's available options for the client to review and then discuss with the attorney. The attorney will fully inform the client about each option so that an informed decision may be made about which strategy to pursue.
Implement the planning option(s) selected by the client. This may require the attorney to prepare one or more trusts, a power of attorney, deeds, and other legal instruments; or it may require overseeing proper implementation of gift transfers, loan arrangements, or other strategies. Again, every client’s situation is unique, and there is no “one size fits all” solution. When appropriate, the elder law attorney will oversee submission of a Medicaid application. The attorney will coordinate their efforts with the client’s treating physician, the care facility, and other professionals (such as geriatric care managers, accountants, and financial planners) to see that the application process runs smoothly and benefits may be approved as quickly as possible.
HOW MUCH DOES MEDICAID PLANNING COST?
Our Medicaid planning services are typically provided on a flat-fee basis so that clients need not worry about “extra” hourly billing or “surprise” fees. This fee is quoted at the time of the initial Medicaid planning consultation and is based upon the services appropriate for each particular client. The initial Medicaid planning consultation is also billed on a flat fee basis, and is credited toward the fee for our planning services.
A NOTE REGARDING NON-ATTORNEY "MEDICAID PLANNERS"
Recently, non-attorney "Medicaid planning" companies have sprung up offering to qualify their clients for Medicaid quickly, easily, and cheaply. These planners are often social workers, financial planners, or insurance salespeople who charge fees far less than those charged by the average elder law attorney (sometimes working entirely on the commission generated by the insurance products they sell). However, these planners often lack the experience and knowledge to provide appropriate planning services. These planners are prohibited from engaging in legal work and often partner with less-than-scrupulous attorneys who may never even meet with the "client." Our office is often required to fix the mistakes of these "planners” who have cost their unwitting clients thousands of dollars. Individuals who wish to engage in Medicaid planning are urged to retain an experienced elder law attorney and avoid "too good to be true" offers from these planning companies.
The first step in learning how we can help you is to schedule an initial consultation by calling our office at (954) 227-7320 or using our online contact form (we will follow up with you within one business day).