Medicaid often enters the lives of senior citizens when it comes to paying for the catastrophic costs of nursing home care. Not being familiar with the complex Medicaid system, many families make mistakes within this confusing area of elder law. Some of the most common mistakes include:
1. Relying on Medicare or health insurance to pay nursing home expenses.
Neither Medicare nor regular health insurance pays for the cost of long-term care in a nursing home. With the average cost of nursing homes in Colorado exceeding $70,000 annually, without proper planning most families will quickly run through their life savings.
2. Transferring assets to children or other relatives.
This almost always results in lengthy, unnecessary periods of ineligibility for Medicaid due to the lookback period, which allows Medicaid to examine transfers as far back as five years.
3. Relying on a will or a living trust to protect property from Medicaid.
A will takes effect only upon your death, and a living trust will not protect your assets from being used to pay nursing home expenses.
4. Putting property into joint ownership with a family member.
This is often regarded in the same manner as a transfer and can result in an ineligibility period. It can also create unfortunate legal problems for families.
5. Selling the family home to pay for nursing home care.
In some instances, the family home is exempt from having to be sold to qualify for Medicaid assistance to pay for nursing home expenses.
6. Not seeking the advice of a Medicaid attorney.
A Medicaid attorney can help you not only understand the complexities of Medicaid law, but they can help with Medicaid planning. Medicaid planning allows you to maintain Medicaid eligibility while preserving as much of your family’s wealth as possible.