Legal Solutions for Long-Term Care
The cost of long-term care is a financial burden many families cannot bear. As nursing home costs continue to rise, a lifetime of savings can vanish in a matter of months. With skilled legal planning, however, preserving assets while maintaining eligibility for Medicaid and other assistance programs is often possible.
At Dawson Springman, we can help you with all aspects of Medicaid planning and other elder law issues. We understand that our clients have worked and saved all their lives and have dreams about using that wealth to benefit their loved ones, and we are committed to helping them fulfill their dreams. With law offices in Fort Worth and Midland, we represent clients throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and in west Texas.
Addressing Medicaid Eligibility Concerns
Many seniors rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term care, but the requirements to qualify are strict. A person with as little as one penny over the limit will not qualify. Those with even a few assets may not meet eligibility requirements if the assets are not structured and presented to Medicaid properly. With the skilled use of trusts and other estate planning instruments, it is often possible to spare assets from the enormous cost of long-term care.
In order to qualify for nursing home Medicaid in Texas, your income must be below a certain level. In 2023, for a single person, the maximum monthly income allowed is $2,742. When both spouses apply for nursing home Medicaid, their maximum monthly income is $5,484. The median cost of nursing home care in DFW is about $5,500 per month. A person making $2,743 per month would not qualify for Medicaid but could not pay for their nursing home out of income, either. However, there is a way for a person who is over the income limit to still qualify by using a Qualified Income Trust (also called a QIT or Miller Trust). We can help clients set up a Miller Trust and explain its proper use.
In addition to having a low income, a person must have limited assets to qualify for nursing home Medicaid in Texas. The maximum amount of countable assets a person can have is $2,000. This includes cash, savings accounts, investments, and real estate, other than a primary residence. However, certain IRAs, certain annuities, a car, pre-paid funeral plans, burial plots, and a primary home do not count as assets.
Spousal Protected Resource Amount
When a married person applies for nursing home Medicaid, if their spouse is not in a nursing home, the Medicaid program allows the stay-at-home spouse (called the “Community Spouse”) to retain a certain amount of countable assets. In 2023, the rules enable the Community Spouse to have one-half of the countable assets up to $148,620. However, this amount can sometimes be increased depending on the couple’s income and other factors. It is essential to know how to request an increase as it is not automatically given in most instances and can amount to thousands of dollars kept for the Community Spouse.
Issues With Gifting
Strict look-back periods and transfer penalties apply when a Medicaid applicant has made gifts of their property. Under the right circumstances, gifting property to others can ultimately save total assets, but giving away property can also cause months and even years of ineligibility for the program. This is why it is crucial to have an experienced elder law attorney helping you with the Medicaid and long-term care planning process. We can guide you through all aspects of this process so that you can preserve assets to the maximum extent allowed under the law.
Discuss Your Legal Needs with an Experienced Lawyer
The sooner you begin the long-term care planning process, the better you can preserve assets for inheritance and other purposes that are important to you. To learn more about how we can help you with this process, please call us at CALL or 432-255-5549 or send a message online, and we will respond promptly.