Medicaid is a complicated, ever-changing area of law, and any mistakes made can come with hefty costs. So, what are the top 9 mistakes people make when dealing with Medicaid and how can you avoid making them yourself?
- Relying on Bad Advice
Now, no doubt your friends or family mean well when they offer (often, unsolicited) advice, but they are not experts in Medicaid law. You wouldn’t call your mother to ask her advice about an investment decision when you have a financial advisor available, so do not succumb to the advice of people who are not qualified to interpret the laws relating to Medicaid or to provide legal advice in that area. Talk to our team for a free consultation and get good advice today.
- Working with the Wrong Attorney
Attorneys can be specialized in specific areas or may have a general practice, similar to doctors. The thing is, if you have a specific problem with your foot, you would seek out a specialized foot doctor. With legal issues, you should apply the same logic. Do not rely on a general attorney who has a passing knowledge of Medicaid or long-term care planning. Work with an attorney who specializes in Medicaid law. A specialized attorney will be current on any legal changes relating to Medicaid and can give you expert advice.
- Believing it is Too Late
Just because you are behind the curve with planning does not mean you should avoid it entirely. It is never too late to start planning. The longer you wait, however, the more you lose. So take action as soon as you can.
- Thinking a Living Trust Protects Assets from Medicaid
If you have a living trust, that is great. But it typically does not provide protection from Medicaid. Having an attorney review your documents and assets can help you understand the guidelines and identify the services you may qualify for.
- Thinking Your Existing Annuity Protects Assets from Medicaid
Most annuities today fail to offer the same protections they did prior to 2006. Talk to a professional to see if this applies to you.
- Trying to Hide Assets
Since there are asset limits/qualification requirements for Medicaid, families might try to “forget” or hide their assets. However, failing to disclose assets to get Medicaid coverage is a crime. You do not want to risk legal action that results in punitive fines for your failure to disclose assets in addition to repaying the cost of the benefits you used.
- Giving Away Assets without a Plan
Do not just hand over all of your assets or gift them away without a plan. If you want to transfer assets so that you will qualify for Medicaid coverage, speak with a qualified attorney about proper estate planning to avoid tax or Medicaid problems. Never transfer assets without fully reviewing the potential consequences of the decision. Only a qualified Michigan Elder Law attorney can help you time your transfers correctly.
- Ignoring Congressional Safe Harbors
Do not jeopardize your eligibility by ignoring Congressional safe harbors; this goes hand in hand with the mistake mentioned above. Certain transfers are allowed, such as transferring to disabled children, siblings, etc., but you need to meet Congressional requirements. Qualified attorneys can help make sure you do.
- Failing to Protect Spouses or Nursing Home Residents
Make no mistake, Congress wants to protect the spouses of anyone in a nursing home, but you have to make sure you do so properly and in a timely fashion.
For more information on Medicaid in Michigan and how to avoid making these mistakes yourself, contact SSR Law Firm. Our Michigan Elder Law Attorneys offer a variety of services, and we can help you find the perfect solution