Medicaid’s look-back period can be confusing, but it’s important because it can have a very significant effect on your ability to pay for long-term care.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a system that’s available only to people who have very few assets. As a result, the government is concerned that people will “game the system” by giving away all their assets to family members and then applying for Medicaid shortly afterward. That’s obviously not fair to the taxpayers who support the system.
A revocable living trust can be a great way to avoid probate, manage your assets if you become incapacitated, and help to protect your family’s privacy. If you have one, it’s a good idea to review it every few years to make sure that it still meets your goals and is up-to-date with the law.
The most important questions involve which assets are in the trust and what will become of them if something should happen to you. But there are a lot of other factors to think about that can also be very important for your estate plan. Here are some common issues and problems with living trusts that you might want to consider:
Have you been officially asked to manage someone else’s money? For example, have you been named as an agent under a power of attorney or a trustee of a trust? As our society ages, more and more people are being asked to take on these roles, but they can be daunting.
In order to help, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four free guides; under the general title Managing Someone Else’s Money. The guides are designed for (1) agents under a power of attorney, (2) court-appointed guardians, (3) trustees of a trust, and (4) people appointed to manage someone else’s government benefit checks, such as Social Security and Veterans.
As we live through the latest winter storms to strike our area, we often think about how this is affecting our aging parents. Most of us call to ask if they are okay, check on them, bring them groceries and shovel their snow. As caring children and family members, we worry about their safety and well-being. After all, they raised us and gave us a significant part of their lives. In the same way, we should make certain that our parents’ social and financial matters are in order. Sometimes we begin to notice that they may need more help. Seniors may often begin to neglect proper management of their finances or tend to ignore any warning signs regarding their health or well-being. This often becomes a good time to start a conversation with your parents to discuss how they might benefit from assistance from family members. This is also the situation where an effective elder law attorney can be a valuable partner.
Without an estate plan, attorneys, or the courts, may decide the fate of your assets.
Even if you have a modest estate, it’s important that you know the basics of estate planning, as well as get expert assistance in making plans. Young or old, wealthy or not so much, you can make life easier on your loved ones during a time of grief by being proactive. For this reason, we advise you to start the estate planning process as early as possible.
What can you do now to ensure that your assets go to the people you choose, not those the state chooses, or that your affairs will be taken care of as you wish if you become incapacitated?