A Sioux Falls elder law attorney has spoken out in an attempt to redress misinformation circulating among clients about the impact of their assets when they seek nursing home care. —
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Bobbi L. Thury, Co-Founder of Legacy Law Firm, P.C., commented in a recent interview by zeroing in on four persistent myths.
What happens to a person's assets when they are admitted to a nursing home was the first to be addressed by Thury - "There is a lot of misinformation around this topic and can often result in hard-earned assets being poorly protected or unprotected altogether."
One widespread misconception is that an individual in nursing home care can give away $16,000 per person a year without penalties. Thury elaborated: "The $16,000 limit applies to federal gift tax and has nothing to do with applying and eligibility for Medicaid, which is a financial aid program.
"Medicaid gifting rules differ: You will be penalized and not qualify for Medicaid benefits for some time if any gifts you make are divestments."
The second myth was around 'Medicaid-Friendly Annuity' "Many older adults mistakenly assume that buying a Medicaid-friendly annuity will act as a robust asset protection plan," she said. "Getting a Medicaid pre-planning annuity isn't what it used to be.”
“Changes in Medicaid laws at both federal and state level mean that annuities may not be as helpful in planning and qualifying for Medicaid.”
"The downside to many supposed Medicaid-friendly annuities is that they are regular deferred annuities. Many of the annuities have limited options when it comes to qualifying for Medicaid and can narrow the scope of protected assets if you are in a nursing home."
Another misconception is that the state will seize assets when someone goes into a nursing home. Thury asserted: "You don't have to hand over anything to the state. If you're not married, the amount to spend down to is $2,000 or less in cash and other countable assets." In other words, Medicaid won't dispense any money until you 'spend down' your countable or available assets.
Lastly, Thury addressed that it's never too late to develop an asset protection plan even after a loved one is in the nursing home. "It's never too late to protect your assets. You can still qualify to receive Medicaid benefits even if you've been using private funds to pay for nursing home expenses for years.”
Thury concluded: "The one overriding recommendation in addressing all these myths and questions is to consult an experienced elder law attorney for reassurance and before doing anything you may later regret."
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