Page 32

SpokaneInnovaging2014

CHAPTER ONE n TAKING CHARGE Elder Law: Meeting Seniors’ Needs By Lynn St. Louis Law Office Have you ever without disqualifying the child from gov- purchase of a Medicaid-compliant annu- wondered how you ernment benefits programs. ity, which is an excellent planning tool to would pay if you, protect assets, and is purchased only at When care needs arise, the key to success your spouse, or the time of need. The annuity pays to the is determining the appropriate care plan parent needed long- well spouse during its term. Thus, a cou- and where that care can best be provided. term care? ple may not need to “spend down” all of Most people would prefer to remain at their assets on care costs. Do you help your home if at all possible. Of course, the cost disabled child, and of care can be enormous. Although a single person may keep very are you concerned little in countable resources ($2,000), about how to ensure Care can be paid for through one’s own exemptions may apply to preserve assets. the child’s care when you are gone? wealth, long-term care insurance, or For example, the “caregiver child” government benefit programs, such as exemption allows a parent to transfer Are you confused about which govern- Medicaid (not Medicare) or Veterans their home to their adult child if the child ment program might help if and when Affairs. Medicare pays for health care, but has been residing with and caring for the you need it – Medicare or Medicaid? not for long-term care (except in very lim- parent in the home for a period of two Elder Law focuses on medical and long- ited circumstances). years prior to the Medicaid application. term care needs and eligibility for gov- Medicaid, on the other hand, provides Similarly, transfers to disabled persons ernment benefits, an often overwhelming benefits for long-term care, but has are allowed without penalty. If, however, and confusing task. resource limits. Medicaid is the primary no exemption applies, transfers made Prior to needing care it is very important payment source for residents of skilled within five years of the Medicaid applica- to consult with an Elder Law attorney. nursing facilities, but also pays for long- tion will result in a period of ineligibility Many planning options exist to ensure term care benefits in a person’s home, for Medicaid benefits. This is known as maximum protections while giving you assisted living facility, or adult family the “look back” period. peace of mind, knowing that your estate home. In Washington, benefits for care Once a spouse begins receiving Medicaid plan is right for you and your loved ones. not in an institutional setting are provided long-term care benefits, all assets of the under the “COPES” program. couple must be transferred to the name For example, couples should have Wills of the well spouse. The transfer should with Supplemental Needs Trusts to Although Medicaid has resources limits, be done immediately, not only to ensure allow protection of assets for the benefit not all assets are countable. You can keep continued eligibility for benefits, but to of the surviving spouse. Assets which your home, a vehicle, household furnish- avoid the state’s lien on any assets. pass to a Supplemental Needs Trust are ings and personal effects, and an irrevoca- deemed “non-countable” for Medicaid ble prepaid burial plan. Certainly, Medicaid’s rules are complex, eligibility purposes. In addition, exceptions often apply that guide you, helping you and your lovedbut a qualified Elder Law attorney can Many people are surprised to learn that allow Medicaid recipients to preserve ones find, keep, and pay for long-term a Revocable Living Trust cannot provide substantial resources. Indeed, for married care while preserving assets. these protections. It is only through a persons, Medicaid’s policy is to protect Will that the preferential treatment of the well spouse (the spouse not needing assets is available to the surviving spouse. care), and allow retention of sufficient Similarly, your estate plan can create a resources to avoid impoverishment. Supplemental Needs Trust for your dis- Further, excess countable resources may abled child so that they are well cared for be rendered “non-countable” through the Lynn St. Louis is a skilled and compas- For more information, call Lynn at sionate Elder Law attorney, serving clients (509) 468-0551 or visit her website at and their families in the Inland Northwest. www.spokaneelderlaw.com. Lynn has over 28 years of experience as an attorney, and limits her practice to Elder Law. THE OPINIONS OFFERED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION ONLY. TO FURTHER EXPLORE THIS TOPIC, THE PUBLISHER ENCOURAGES YOU TO CONTACT TRUSTED PROFESSIONALS. 30


SpokaneInnovaging2014
To see the actual publication please follow the link above