Isolation is something that many seniors experience on a regular basis. However, with the COVID pandemic, that isolated feeling is more common than ever. Today, we want to encourage the individuals who know someone living alone to take some small steps to help your loved one socialize.We always encourage our clients to incorporate video conferencing or video chat to allow the family member to see their loved ones on a regular basis. This could be on a scheduled date and time each week where you have a conversation and catch up, or maybe schedule meals together where you leave the video on while everybody eats. You have to eat anyway and giving the opportunity for your loved one to spend their mealtime talking with their family and seeing familiar faces is a small gesture that could go a long way! Not only will it help them, but it will also give you the chance to assess whether your loved one is having any hearing or sight issues that should be addressed.Encourage your loved one to join clubs. Many of them are now virtual to allow as many people possible to partake. Having them be a part of these groups will give them interactions outside of your conversations and have stories to bring you when you visit or call.Although these are very minor suggestions, they can go a long way in helping your loved one not feel so isolated. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.
Medicaid is a state- and federally funded health program for lower-income persons of all ages. For applicants who fall into certain categories, Medicaid imposes specific rules on how much income and resources they can have and still qualify for benefits.Each state has different rules for how much an applicant may have in income and assets to qualify for Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid, you must fall under your states corresponding limit, which can be as low as $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple.These resource limits can also vary depending on whether a person applies for institutional or nursing home care, community-based services, or regular Medicaid.If your assets are above the resource limit that would allow you to qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to engage in planning that will allow you to qualify for Medicaid. This planning often involves establishing a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) or an equivalent planning device permitted under your states laws. When a MAPT or similar trust is properly drafted and implemented, it can protect your assets from Medicaid while enabling you to qualify for this benefit.How Does a MAPT Work?A MAPT is an irrevocable trust created during your lifetime. The primary goal of a MAPT is to transfer assets to it so that Medicaid won't count these assets toward your resource limit when determining whether you qualify for Medicaid benefits.A MAPT must be in writing and properly acknowledged. You must also pick a trustee (not yourself) to manage the trust and its assets. The trustee can be a family member whom you trust. In addition, assets to be put in the MAPT actually need to be transferred. In the case of real estate, you must transfer the deed to the trust. Stocks and bonds must be registered in the name of the MAPT.A MAPT must be created with sufficient time to avoid running afoul of Medicaid lookback periods. When it comes to qualifying for Medicaid, transfers to trusts are subject to a 60-month lookback period. That is why this type of planning should be done before the need for Medicaid arises, preferably as early as possible.While you no longer own assets after they're transferred to a MAPT, and assets may not revert to you, you can still benefit from these assets. For example, if you transfer your home to a MAPT, you may still be able to live there. In other situations, income generated from the trust principal may be paid to you (although you cannot liquidate or withdraw the principal). However, note that this income can be counted as available income for purposes of Medicaid eligibility.Can You Protect Your Home With a MAPT?People frequently wish to use a MAPT to protect their homes because it's their biggest asset. Although Medicaid may not count your home as an asset that falls within your resource limit, this doesn't mean that your home is safe from Medicaid. For example, the home isn't exempt from Medicaids estate recovery program. Following a persons death, Medicaid usually tries to recover what it paid for their care by filing a lien against the persons estate. This often includes the family home. A proper planning strategy, which may include using a MAPT, can avoid this scenario.MAPTs also offer a certain degree of flexibility. For example, if you need to downsize to a smaller home, the MAPT can sell the house, receive the proceeds of the sale, and then purchase an apartment where you may reside. The new property is still protected from Medicaid, and the lookback doesn't start over. There are also some other features of MAPTs that lessen the sting of irrevocability. You may retain the power to change the trustee or beneficiaries of the trust.Assets That Can Be Placed in a MAPTMany types of property can be placed in a MAPT to help you qualify for Medicaid. Examples include:Bank accountsStocks and bondsMutual fundsBrokerage accountsCertificates of depositReal estate (subject to some exceptions)Other investmentsHowever, there are some assets you cannot place in a MAPT. For example, many retirement plans, IRAs, and other retirement resources cannot be transferred to a trust. They would have to be liquidated first. In addition, in some states, transferring your home into a MAPT may not protect it from Medicaid. The fees associated with preparing a MAPT can be costly, ranging from a few to several thousand dollars. Every persons situation is unique, and you shouldn't assume a MAPT is suitable for you without speaking with a qualified elder attorney. An elder law attorney in your area can consider how a MAPT may affect other benefits you receive, your overall estate plan, its tax consequences, and much more.
This year, we are getting the word out there about the Life Care Planning we offer that involves a licensed social worker to act as the Client Care Advocate. A question that we keep getting is what is What is the difference between Life Care Planning and Elder Law and why did you make the change? The way that I explain it is that a traditional elder law firm prepares documents for an individual and then either waits until the client passes or until they need to go to a nursing home and will qualify them for public benefits.A life care planning firm is a more holistic approach to providing care. Our licensed social worker, Meg Motter, works with families to assist in figuring out ways to keep their loved ones home and how to receive care in a home or in a less restrictive environment than a nursing home. A licensed social worker will be able to provide different cognitive assessments and evaluate safety and necessity of levels of care, unlike an attorney. The elder care coordinator allows the firm to provide a more comprehensive approach, separate from just estate planning documents or qualification for Medicaid. The care coordinator allows the firm to provide information and advice that was not otherwise available to the firm prior to becoming a life care planning model firm.We are ecstatic to have Meg Motter onboard as our elder care coordinator and we look forward to assisting you and your family in the future.Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.
Since 1992 Advocate In-Home Care has helped clients live at home by matching them with the best referred Care Providers for their situation, we guarantee it. Services can include Companion Care, Personal Care, Live-in Care, Alzheimers Care, Respite Care, and Assistance with Daily Activities. Visit our web site for a Free Consultation with a local Care Liaison.