Why You Should Use a Lawyer for Medicaid Planning

18Sep, 2017

Many seniors and their families don’t use a lawyer to plan for long-term care or Medicaid often because they are afraid of the cost. But an attorney can help you save money in the long run as well as make sure you are getting the best care for your loved one.

Instead of taking steps based on what you have heard from others, doing nothing, or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can hire an elder law attorney. Here are a few reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney:

  • No conflict of interest. When nursing homes refer the families of residents to non-lawyers such as the social worker at the nursing home, to assist in preparing the Medicaid application, the preparer has dual loyalties, both to the facility that provides the referrals and to the client applying for benefits. To the extent everyone wants the Medicaid application to be successful, there is no conflict of interest. However, it is in the nursing home’s interest that the resident pay privately for as long as possible before going on Medicaid and it is in the nursing home resident’s interest to protect assets for the resident’s care or for the resident’s spouse or family. An attorney hired to assist with Medicaid planning and the application has a duty of loyalty only to the client and will do his or her best to achieve the client’s goals.
  • Saving money. Nursing homes can cost as much as $15,000 a month in some areas. It is not difficult to save this much in long-term care and probate costs. Most attorneys will consult with new clients at little or no cost to determine what might be achieved before the client pays a larger fee.  With the crushing costs of nursing home care, it is worth at least consulting with an attorney.
  • Deep knowledge and experience. Professionals who work in any field on a daily basis over many years develop both the depth and breadth of experience and expertise to advise clients on how they might achieve their goals, whether those are maintaining independence and dignity, protecting and preserving assets for children and grandchildren, or staying home rather than moving to assisted living or a nursing home. Less experienced advisers, however well intentioned, cannot know what they don’t know.
  • Peace of mind. While it may be possible that when you consult with an elder law attorney, the attorney will advise you that in your situation there is not much you can do to preserve assets or achieve Medicaid eligibility more quickly, the consultation will provide peace of mind that you have not missed an important opportunity. In addition, if obstacles arise during the process, the attorney will be there to work with you to find the optimal solution.

Medicaid rules provide opportunities for nursing home residents to preserve assets for themselves, their spouses and children, especially those with special needs. There are more strategies for those who plan early, but even in a crisis situation there may still be strategies available to preserve some assets. If you or someone you know would like to talk more about Medicaid planning, please contact our firm.  We would be happy to assist you!

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