How the elderly can protect their assets
Asset Protection for the elderly. Anyone who is growing older and has an estate of any size needs to know about asset protection for the elderly, and in particular the law governing eligibility for Medicaid. There are limits to the income and the monetary value of the resources that anyone applying for Medicaid is allowed to have. These limits are different in different states. If you live in North Carolina, you should know that resources for the aged, blind and disabled are limited to $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, and monthly income is limited to $981 for an individual and $1,328 for a couple. Cash, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds and other investments all count as resources. If you have more than these limits, but you are also dealing with high medical bills, you might be eligible for a Medicaid deductible.
There is a kind of irrevocable trust which will ensure that any assets you place in it are no longer counted as resources in determining eligibility for Medicaid. It is called a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. However, putting your assets in this trust will not make them disappear as far as the state is concerned. The government will assume that you have sold your assets for fair market value, and will count that value as part of your resources — even if you gave your assets away completely.
Gastonia NC Asset protection assistance
The five years before you apply for Medicaid are critical. If you make any large gifts in this time period, there will be an eligibility penalty when you apply — that is, there will be a delay imposed before you are allowed to receive Medicaid. If you need nursing home care within five years of placing such assets into a trust, you will have to pay for such care yourself until the state deems you eligible.
It is therefore very important to begin planning to protect your assets more than five years before you intend to apply for Medicaid. This will mean finding an attorney who can advise you as to what assets you can protect and how to protect them. If you wish to use a trust, or to grant financial power of attorney to an agent, the right legal language has to be used in order to protect the assets.
Robert C. Whitt is Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Mount Holly, Charlotte, Gastonia and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on elder law and has helped hundreds of clients protect their assets while qualifying for Medicaid, entering a nursing home or taking advantage of assisted living services. If you or someone you love in this area needs asset protection for the elderly or may be in need of it in the future, call his office today.