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I am applying for Medicaid for my spouse’s nursing home care. Will the state take my home?

No, with proper planning your spouse can transfer the house to you and, thus remove it from consideration for estate recovery. An elder law attorney can assist you with this.

NOTE: The same rules do not apply for transfers to other relatives.

How can I live on $1,200.00 a month? Doesn’t Medicaid take all of my spouse’s income when they enter a care facility?

Your monthly income is completely protected from Medicaid. If your gross monthly income is less than $2,898.00, you can keep a portion of your spouse’s monthly income to bring your total monthly income to $2,898.00. NOTE: This number is adjusted in January of most years.

Can I sell my house if my spouse is on Medicaid?

Absolutely! During the Medicaid application process, an elder law attorney can counsel you on transferring the home out of the Medicaid spouse’s name and into your name. NOTE: This requires authority and consistency with the estate plan. Once Medicaid is established, assuming you own the home, you are now free to sell your property as needed. If your spouse’s Medicaid award has not been issued, you will need to wait to sell your home.

My parents are divorced. Can my mother still get VA benefits?

Unfortunately, the Aid & Attendance Benefit eligibility for the non-veteran spouse ends at divorce.

My parents’ will is 20 years old. Is it still valid?

If the will was valid when executed, it is likely still valid. The related and more important question is whether their will “is still good?” The answer to that is more complex and depends on what has happened in the last 20 years. We recommend that your parents review the will with an elder law attorney to determine if it is still “good.”

My parents’ Powers of Attorney are from out of state. Are they still valid in our state?

Perhaps. They should schedule an appointment with an elder law attorney in your state to review the powers of attorney and determine if they will comply with your states law. The law regarding wills, trusts and other estate planning documents varies from state to state. Documents in one state may or may not, be valid in another state.

What does a simple will cost?

Wouldn’t it be great if a simple will was all that was needed to properly plan for death or incapacity? Unfortunately, estate planning is no longer so simple because of the realities of modern-day life generally require more end-of-life planning than a will can provide. Only a small handful of our clients were well-suited for a simple will plan. Sadly, the person who inappropriately relies on a simple will is usually incapacitated or deceased before the shortcomings of their “simple” estate plan become apparent. To resolve these problems, an expensive guardianship and/or time-consuming probate is required. Fortunately, with proper planning, both guardianship and probate can be avoided to preserve the estate assets.

Is my mother competent to sign a Financial Power of Attorney?

This question is best answered with an example. Recently, one of our lawyers met with a client who has a moderate case of Alzheimer’s-like dementia. Despite her disease, the client’s doctor has confirmed that she is completely able to execute estate planning documents. Simply stated, if your doctor says you have capacity, then we can probably assist you with signing estate planning documents such as a power of attorney, health care directive and will.

Why should I get an attorney to draft my legal documents? Can’t I just download them from the Internet?

This all too common question always makes us want to cringe! Downloaded powers of attorney are one of the biggest sources of frustration and hardship for our clients and their adult children. Those one or two-page documents almost never address the essential powers the family needs to conduct their loved one’s business. Unfortunately, our clients often don’t discover this until it is too late. At that point, we are left with limited options to assist them. This generally results in the need for a guardianship or court procedure, which can cost thousands of dollars.

What is the difference between Medicaid and Medicare?

The major difference between the two programs is the requirements to qualify for the benefits.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for individuals who earn Social Security retirement benefits and are 65 years of age or older. Medicare also covers individuals of any age who have end-state kidney disease and need dialysis or a kidney transplant as well as individuals approved for Social Security Disability.

Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the elderly, the blind, disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally-assisted income maintenance payments. It also helps pay for long term care.