By Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Lawyer Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law. Familial caregivers are typically compensated according to what the state along with your attorney determines to be “Fair Market Value”. This may prevent transfers of money from one family member to the next from being counted as gifting or Medicaid spend down, when substantive caregiving services were rendered. Once your elder law attorney has provided an evidentiary basis to prove that the transfer of assets were for fair market value, they still must demonstrate that the transfer of assets was made for reasons other than to qualify for Medicaid or that the elder receiving the caregiving services intended to pay for the services. Simply providing verbal assurances that seniors were not considering applying for Medicaid when they transferred assets to the caregiver child is not sufficient proof that the assets were transferred for a reason other than to qualify for Medicaid. It is important to recognize that anyone applying for nursing home Medicaid benefits is burdened by the presumption that any transfer of assets for less than fair market value is deemed to have been motivated by an intent to impoverish oneself to qualify for Medicaid benefits. While the presumption is rebuttable, those who sit in judgment of the evidence are the employees of the state Medicaid department who do not often rule in favor of the Medicaid applicant. The senior needs to have a written personal-care agreement and extensive supporting documentation. However, even though the parties to the personal-care agreement may have anticipated being forced to use nursing home Medicaid when and if the senior’s assets become exhausted, that does not preclude them from giving “reliable proof” that the senior intended to receive valuable services in exchange for the transfer of assets. Hearing officers and judges will examine the senior’s personal-care agreement, looking for reliable proof that the assets were exchanged for valuable services. There is some disagreement as to how specific the written agreement must be, but it is best to make the agreement as specific as possible. In some states, it may be essential that the personal-care agreement be entered into prior to services being rendered. In other states, those reviewing the contract will be looking for specifics such as how long the services will last, how many hours per week, what standards of services are being provided, and what, if any, provisions provide for a refund. In some cases, those reviewing the contract may investigate whether the services mentioned in the agreement were actually the services that were performed. Thus, while a valid, written caregiver agreement is a necessity, it is difficult to find a universal standard for what must be included in the agreement. Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options! Sincerely, Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees. Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!
By Rick Law, Elder Law Attorney at the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law. The multi-generation law firm of LEL serves seniors, boomers, and their families in Kendall, Kane, DuPage, Will, Cook and other counties in Illinois. The world was different in 1965. I remember most of the aged poor of our community went to the county home for the aged and infirm. Most men died before the age of 65, and women before the age of 70. There were few long-term care facilities, because few were needed. Today we have millions of people with long-term care needs. Many US citizens assume that Medicare is their right. They assume that the health reimbursement program provided by the United States government on behalf of persons who are over the age of 65, blind, and/or disabled has always been there, and always will be. But this is not the case. Instituted in July of 1965, The Medicare-Medicaid Act was part of a number of reforms implemented by President Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic majority, marking a major shift in our societal view of who should carry the cost of providing medical care for senior citizens. President Johnson stated: “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles and their aunts. And no longer will this nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.” Medicare was built on a 1965 acute care model, designed to provide healthcare for the individual who has a probability of recovering from his or her disease. Medicare is not designed to pay for long-term care. Medicare was designed to ‘care’ about acute medical care; heart disease, gall stones or cancer. Medicare does not ‘care’ about diagnoses such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or long-term mobility problems. If you need long-term care, then you have lost the “diagnosis lottery”. If you need care in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, your care is not acute but long-term, and Medicare stops ‘caring’ about you. As soon as Medicare stops ‘caring’, you are on your own! You will need to have a substantial long-term care insurance plan, a deep pocket-book, or become impoverished. If you are impoverished as defined by the Medicaid program, then you will meet Medicare’s ugly sister, Medicaid. And that is a whole other story. Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options! Sincerely, Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees. Rick has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!
By Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law. LEL is a multi-generation firm serving seniors and their families in Aurora, IL just West of Chicago off of the I-88 tollway. An all too familiar phone call came into our office the other day: “My mom is elderly and ailing, and my siblings and I need advice on how to help her. Our folks have a decent monthly income and assets, but the nursing home costs are three times that much! Nobody made any plans for this. My parents never expected to live this long. We don’t know what to do. I can’t have them live with me. Help me, please!” Nobody enjoys the feelings of hopelessness and impending doom brought upon by this kind of situation. But “We don’t know what to do!” is just the beginning of the journey for the concerned family. Often we get this phone call from the child or spouse caretaker because the person in need of care isn’t ready to admit yet that they need help. We can’t force a parent to get assistance, but we can be the “voice of authority,” to tell them when it’s time to start letting go and facing reality. It is our job as elder law attorneys to help our senior clients–and those who love them–make those tough end-of-life and long-term care decisions The call from the kids has several possible motives, and more specifically, several underlying emotions:
- Love and responsibility: to provide the best care for mom or dad with the least destruction of their assets during their lives.
- Seeking relief: the need to lift the care and cost burden off the caregiver, who may be the caller himself or another loved one.
- Fear of loss: the desire to conserve the benefits of the parental assets, either during the parents’ lives or at the time of their deaths.
- Greed: the desire to get access to the parents’ assets so the assets will not be “lost.”
- Confusion: Looking for a source of care and comfort at a time of great emotional and financial stress.
- Guilt: for not being able to do more for a needy parent, spouse, or other loved one.
- Shame: one man recently said to us, “I just can’t believe that I have to put the love of my life in a nursing home.”
- Anger: “Why did my parents not plan better?” “Why me? My siblings never help me take care of dad.” “I wish he would just die.”
- Frustration: over conflict with declining parents.
- Self-preservation: worry about how much of their own limited resources must be used to provide parental care.
- the principal place of residence in certain situations
- household and personal belongings
- one car
- burial plot/prepaid funeral plan
- cash value of permanent life insurance policies up to $1,500
- a small amount of cash (this varies from state to state, but typically a single Medicaid applicant may keep $2,000 while married couples who both require Medicaid may keep about $3,000)