Older adults may need to plan to qualify for Medicaid coverage

On Behalf of | Dec 25, 2023 | Estate Planning

Long-term care is one of the most pressing elder law needs. People all too often fail to plan for their comfort and care later in life. Many people in the golden years of their lives eventually have health challenges that they cannot manage on their own. They will rely on skilled caregivers who come out to their homes or possibly even workers at a nursing home when living independently might put someone’s health and safety at risk.

Paying for in-home nursing support or a room in an assisted living facility can cost thousands of dollars each month. Most retired adults do not have the capital to cover those expenses themselves. Older adults in Washington, therefore, need to plan ahead of time so that they can qualify for Medicaid if they find themselves in need of long-term care.

Why advance planning is crucial

Many older adults leave long-term care planning until their health starts actively declining. At that point, they may need benefits in the near future. That scenario puts them at a marked disadvantage. The Medicaid program in Washington looks at 60 months or five years of financial records when determining whether someone is eligible for benefits or not. If there are any questionable transfers or gifts during those five years, including transfers to trusts, the applicant may be subject to a penalty. They will have to pay for their own care for a set number of months because of that penalty.

Advance planning can diminish the value of someone’s personal holdings long before they need benefits. That way, they won’t have to worry about applying or paying a sizable penalty when they do. Advance planning also benefits the people who should inherit from someone’s estate after they die. The Medicaid estate recovery program can take legal action against someone’s estate in pursuit of repayment for all of the benefits that they received. Long-term care planning can help ensure that certain resources are not at risk of estate recovery efforts. Therefore, the person who needs Medicaid won’t have to worry about leaving nothing for their spouse or children when they die.

Thinking about the possible need for Medicaid coverage later in life can help Washington adults create more effective estate plans and long-term care plans. Seeking personalized legal guidance can be a helpful way to get started.