Protecting your assets
As you grow older, you (hopefully) accumulate greater wealth, which means you have more to protect. You may be afraid of outliving your wealth, of spending everything you’ve earned over the course of your life in the last five years of your lifetime and having it turn out not to be enough. Your house, your car, your investment portfolio and life insurance… all of these put together might not add up to more than a few years in a nursing home. To protect your assets, you will need the help of an elder law lawyer.
The income and resource limits of Medicaid law
There are different types of Medicaid, each of which has different rules that govern how much it allows its recipients to keep. The monthly income limit you will have on Medicaid in a nursing home is $1,247.50 for basic care and $1,560.50 for a dementia-lockdown unit. You should be aware that this only includes Social Security, fixed pensions and other forms of fixed income. It does not include interest, dividends or payments out of an IRA or 401K. As for your resources, if you and your spouse have over $240,000, the most you will be able to keep back at home is $119,220 if you go into a nursing home. In this case, unlike in the monthly income limit mentioned above, countable resources include life insurance, retirement plans, IRAs and annuities.
The rules are different for assisted living centers. For example, if you wish to transfer assets out of your name before applying for Medicaid, the look-back period for an assisted living center is three years, whereas in the case of a nursing home it would be five years.
Transferring assets using a power of attorney
Asset protection for the elderly can also be achieved using a financial power of attorney. This will let your agent transfer assets out of your name, if it is drawn up correctly. Very few powers of attorney being created in North Carolina at this time have the requisite language included. It will take an elder law attorney to guide you through the process of drawing up a power of attorney that will let your agent do everything you need him or her to do.
Assistance with asset protection for the elderly in the Charlotte area
With the laws surrounding asset protection as complex as they are, only an attorney who is an expert on the subject can help you. Robert C. Whitt is a Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Gastonia, Charlotte, Mount Holly and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on wills, trusts and other aspects of elder law. If you are interested in asset protection for the elderly, make an appointment today.