Proper Legal Planning is Essential to Qualify for Florida Medicaid

With proper planning and help from a Miami estate attorney, it is possible to accomplish the goals of qualifying for Florida Medicaid. The laws that dictate passing the income and asset tests for Medicaid are very strict and not having shelters in place when you are planning your retirement could mean that you can be denied some or all of your benefits.

Unlike Medicare, a federal program which you would qualify for based on age or disability, Florida Medicaid is based upon need, meaning that there are strict limits on the amount of monthly income that you can earn and the amount of assets you can own. In general, Florida Medicaid expects a person who has to use it for long-term nursing home care to spend just about all of their money towards that care. There are some ways to keep from having to use every cent on your nursing home care, however, as long as you properly plan.

One way to protect the amount that counts both towards your asset and your income test is to have the spouse who is not applying for long term care take some of the assets and income. A community spouse, or the spouse who is not applying for care, can apply to have part of their spouse’s income go to them in order to help with their own expenses. The amount would vary based on the year and the amount of money both spouses make, but having an amount go to the spouse who is not getting long-term care could mean a few thousand dollars a month that is not expected to be included for paying the nursing home. Also to be considered is that the spouse who is not going into a nursing home is able to hold on to about $119,000 of their assets and not have them be considered for the asset test.

Probably the most important tools when it comes to protecting income and assets is through the creation of trusts. In Florida, there are two main types of trusts that are used to shelter your worth if you have to go to a nursing home or get other long term care. The first is an irrevocable qualified income trust. With this type of trust, excess income that goes over the amount needed to pass Florida’s income trust goes into a special account which can be used to pay for care over and above the amount covered by Medicaid.

Besides looking at income and assets, Medicaid will also look back five years and will penalize you for any gifts made to trusts. One way to avoid this five year look back is to create a supplemental needs trust, which is a special type of trust meant to protect your assets and give you a way to find your needs while you are hospitalized while not failing the asset tests. In return, after death, the proceeds from this trust is used to pay back Medicaid.

When it comes to asset and income protection when dealing with Medicaid, the law changes often and there are many things that make planning complex. A Miami estate attorney is needed to draft the proper trust agreements and to give advice on which steps you can take to preserve your Medicaid eligibility while still having a high quality of life. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.