What Can You Do If You Haven’t Prepared for the Nursing Home?

It happens far too often. A fall, a stroke, or other tragedy suddenly forces you to make difficult decisions about moving your loved one into a nursing home. Ideally, you have already made plans for when you are faced with these difficult decisions, so some stresses are alleviated because you are better equipped to know how your assets are affected.

Although planning in advance is preferred and encouraged, life does happen. Crisis planning becomes necessary when a person has already entered a nursing home—or must be placed in one very soon—and has been informed that he or she has too many assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

Information provided by friends, family, social workers, nursing home intake staff and even Medicaid workers can be out of date or even wrong. Although as well-intentioned as these individuals are, the laws governing Medicaid eligibility are complicated and ever-changing.

In Missouri, what was previously named Medicaid is now known as MO HealthNet. In most cases, when a family member goes into a nursing home some of their assets can be saved. However, this is a very complex area of law, and no two people have the same set of circumstances. A consultation with an attorney practicing in the area of Elder Law can save you time and money, even when you are confronted with a crisis situation.

Because Medicaid (MO HealthNet) has a five-year look-back period, to protect all of your assets from being spent on nursing home care, those assets would have to be transferred out of your name five years prior to entering a nursing home. What if you started your planning, but it hasn’t been five years yet?

What if you haven’t even started planning and you are thrown into crisis planning?

Applying for Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of nursing home care is complicated and can be confusing and overwhelming. If you take on this process on your own, a mistake in the application process or improperly gifting or transferring assets in an attempt to meet the Medicaid eligibility spend-down rules can cause a significant delay in the start of Medicaid benefits or a requirement that your family gives back assets.

With consultation from an Elder Law attorney, you may be surprised what can be saved, even during crisis planning.

Whether you or a family member are pre-planning or are facing a crisis with long-term care and are unsure of the benefits available to you, please contact the Law Office of Sativa Boatman-Sloan, LLC & 417 Elder Law. You are never beyond the point of being able to apply for Medicaid with the right amount of preparation.

View / Print a copy of this article in Volume 8 of the Law Office of Sativa Boatman-Sloan, LLC & 417 Elder Law Newsletter.