Medicaid is a government program that provides health coverage to individuals, and it is the leading payor of skilled nursing facility care in the United States due to the high cost of such care. Many people mistakenly believe that Medicaid is only for those with minimal resources, but an asset protection plan can help you protect your assets and still qualify for long-term Medicaid benefits.Asset protection planning uses exemptions that allow you to keep some of your assets. For example, in Pennsylvania, you are allowed to keep $45 of your income per month plus any amount you use to pay for health insurance; the rest of your income must be used to pay for your care. When applying for Medicaid, countable resources include assets such as real estate, cash, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance with a face value greater than $1,500, vehicles, and any business interests. However, you can exempt the house you live in, one vehicle, and your spouse can retain their retirement accounts and anywhere between $29,724 and $148,620 of the joint assets, depending upon the total amount of your combined assets. Anything over this calculated amount of exemptions could be put into an asset protection trust and protected from skilled nursing facility costs.An asset protection plan will allow you to immediately protect a portion of your assets, in addition to the assets that are exempt from Medicaid, for significant immediate savings that begin the moment your plan is fully funded.An asset protection plan consists of an asset protection trust, in which you can control the assets, but cant have direct access to them. Giving up direct access to the assets in the trust keeps creditors and predators away. If you do need access to an asset in the trust, you always have the ability to make distributions to someone other than yourself.Asset protection plans not only protect your assets during life but also provide tremendous value for your loved ones when youre gone.Laws and statutes in the area of long-term care Medicaid are always changing, so its highly recommended to review your options with a local elder law/estate planning attorney. At Bellomo & Associates, we can help you learn more about asset protection plans and how they can benefit you and your family while protecting your legacy from the rapidly rising cost of long-term care. Dont wait lets get your estate plan in place!Are you ready to start protecting your assets and planning for long-term care? Contact Bellomo & Associates today to register for an educational workshop. We can help you create a customized asset protection plan and provide guidance on long-term care Medicaid eligibility and planning. Dont wait until its too latetake action now and secure your financial future.
Guardianship Versus Powers of AttorneyOne of the most common questions I get as a practicing elder law attorney is, what is the difference between guardianship and a power of attorney? A power of attorney is a document that a person executes when they are competent to appoint someone to be their agent for either healthcare matters, financial matters or both. The defining characteristics of powers of attorney is that it is a voluntary action by the person, and it can be revoked at any time so a power of attorney cannot be used to trump someones free will in order to place them in a facility for example, against their wishes.A guardianship is a process where one typically files a pleading, requesting to be appointed as a persons guardian. In this case, we must demonstrate that the person we seek to protect is incompetent to manage either their healthcare, or their finances, or both.The guardianship typically comes about in two primary ways. First, if the person we seek to protect never executed a power of attorney, and now is incapable, a guardianship would be necessary in order to handle things like an admission to a hospital or long-term care facility because no one has been appointed to consent to treatment for them. Second is a situation where the person we seek to protect is actively combative to the plan in place to handle their health matters. In this case, we must seek guardianship in order to overcome their wishes, particularly if they are unwise. For example, if your parent develops dementia, but insists that there is nothing wrong with them, that they should continue to drive and live independently and manage their medication, despite evidence that those things are dangerous in their current condition, guardianship is typically necessary in order to restrict their freedom.In some states, like Florida, the guardianship will also cover financial matters. in Alabama, the conservatorship is established at the same time as a guardianship in order to handle healthcare matters for those cases where there is no power of attorney, and the conservatorship is necessary in order pay their bills, access finances, and so forth.To establish financial guardianship, no matter what its called, we typically must be bonded so the person who is applying must be credit worthy and able to obtain a bond from a surety company. This ensures that the persons financial well-being is well taken care of. If there is no one available, or if no one wishes to handle finances, every county typically has, or can appoint someone, as a county conservator to serve as that persons conservator. This is helpful in cases where its a very difficult or complex financial situation. Then it may be preferable to have a professional appointed and giving a relatively small fee for doing so. This leaves the guardian to care for the healthcare of the individual without the added stress of complicated financial matters. Contact an elder attorney for more information about what your needs are and please dont put off executing a power of attorney in favor of those people that you trust as soon as you can to avoid what could be difficult and unnecessary proceedings in Probate Court down the road.This article was contributed by Kyla Kelim with Aging in Alabama. Kyla is an experienced Elder Law attorney. Contact Kyla at 251-281-8120.
Protecting your health and well-being is a top priority, especially as we get older. One important way to safeguard yourself is by creating a health care power of attorney document. This legal document designates a trusted individual to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. But as important as creating this document is, its not enough to simply have it you also need to make sure its in the right hands.A recent story shared by a friend highlights just how critical it is to ensure your healthcare power of attorney is given to the appropriate parties. In this case, a woman was acting as the power of attorney for her mother but didnt have the document on hand when her mother needed medical attention. The hospital demanded the document immediately, and in the chaos of the moment, the daughter ended up agreeing to have her mother fill out a new one on the spot.The problem arose when the nurse asked who should be listed as a power of attorney. The daughter suggested including herself and her mothers husband, who had raised her and was like a father to her. But her mother insisted that only her daughter be listed, causing tension and awkwardness between the family members. It was a situation that could have been avoided if the daughter had simply provided the existing document to the hospital.This story underscores the importance of not only creating a healthcare power of attorney but also ensuring that it is given to the appropriate parties. At Bellomo & Associates, we urge our clients to not only create these documents but to also provide copies to their doctors and keep them on file at hospitals. We provide extra copies so family members can have them as well. Taking these steps can help you avoid any unnecessary stress or heartache should an emergency situation arise.Creating a healthcare power of attorney is a smart move, but its only half the battle. To ensure that your wishes are carried out properly, its crucial to share the document with your healthcare providers and loved ones. Dont let a lack of preparation cause unnecessary tension or problems for your family take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.Please give us a call at 717-845-5390 and well set you up with a free consultation or register for a free workshop by clicking here.