Throughout our lifetimes, we face complicated financial and health issues. These issues become more complex as we age or if we have a loved one with special needs. Some concerns might be retirement and benefits planning, end-of-life decisions, estate planning, long-term care, Medicare benefits, Medicaid coverage, nursing home care, in-home health care, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

Crisis Planning

People sometimes suffer a debilitating injury or medical event and lose their ability to function on their own. These unfortunate situations become crises when that individual or their family cannot provide the necessary assistance, personally or financially. If you or a loved one are facing a crisis, we can help manage assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

No matter if you are in need of help yourself, or are looking after an elderly loved one, we can help you cope with the crisis and get the professional assistance you may be entitled to.

Proactive Planning

It is possible to protect the assets that you have worked for during your lifetime, if you take action before you need skilled or nursing home care. It is possible to protect assets that exceed the Medicaid eligibility limits if properly done in accordance with the law. We can help you determine if pro-active planning is right for you and your family.

Special Needs Planning

If a family member has special needs, planning for their social, medical, and financial future can seem daunting. As an elder law practitioner, we work with families on all aspects of planning, from naming appropriate substitute parents for minor children, navigating the change to legal adulthood at age 18, through funding for the lifetime of the person with special needs. We will explain and explore all of the options so your loved one has the best life possible.

As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which typically is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.

However, careful planning alongside an Orlando Elder Law Attorney can help protect your assets, whether for your own additional needs, your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to investigate long-term care insurance options while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid. Veterans (and their single surviving spouses) also may seek benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program that workers contribute to with each paycheck. When you turn 65, you can enroll. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. Medicare may pay for some rehabilitative care.  It does not pay for long term or custodial care.

Medicare Resources

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. Subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a needs-based program. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state, in Florida, the Department of Children and Families.

Pre-Planning or Crisis Planning

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do consider long-term care, Medicaid eligibility and qualification as  key components of your estate planning process.
  • Don’t make quick decisions when a loved one has a sudden medical crisis.
  • Do consult a qualified elder law attorney if a crisis erupts.
  • Don’t give away your home.  For that matter don’t give anything away until you have a solid action plan.
  • Do seek assistance even if you or a loved one is already in a nursing home. The earlier you begin your planning, the more options you will have to protect your assets and your loved ones.  However crisis planning is still much better than no planning.

Use the Right Trust

Assets in a Revocable Living Trust are not protected and must be used to pay for the costs of long-term care. There are other trusts that may permit you to keep control of your assets.

Choosing the Right Time to Apply is Critical

Applying for Medicaid too early can result in being disqualified longer than necessary, while applying too late can mean having to privately pay for additional months of costly skilled nursing home care. Rule of thumb: Do not apply for Medicaid without a plan to ensure you qualify.

Get the Right Help

A nursing home or hospital that offers to file a Medicaid application for you has no fiduciary obligation to you and can’t legally advise you on how to protect your assets. Only a qualified Orlando Elder Law Attorney will be looking out for your interests. Since Medicaid planning is a complex matter, be sure to retain an attorney who has experience in Medicaid planning and qualification.

Call or contact our Orlando Elder Law Attorneys online to get started.