Medicaid-planning is a joint federal and state program available to fund medical services, including long-term care services. You may qualify for Medicaid-planning assistance even if you own a home, a car, and other property. Often individuals give away or “spend down” their estate in an attempt to qualify for Medicaid-planning, but if this is not handled correctly, such efforts could actually disqualify them for coverage for months, or even years. Proper planning can help you preserve your personal assets and qualify you for Medicaid-planning to pay nursing home costs.
The most common request of estate plan clients who seek Medicaid benefits is through the program called Institutional Care Placement, which helps pay for nursing home care. If an applicant meets the medical requirements for placement in a nursing home, they must determine whether they qualify financially. In order to qualify, the applicant must meet both income and asset requirements. If monthly income exceeds a certain sum, which changes annually, Florida allows for the creation of a qualified income trust. To meet the asset requirement, the applicant must have no more than $2,000 in countable assets. When making a determination if an applicant meets the asset limits, the state can go back as far as five years to determine if there were any transfers (such as gifts to deplete accounts) which would disqualify the applicant.
SPECIAL NEEDS AND POOLED TRUSTS
Florida Medicaid programs also provide benefits to special needs individuals through the use of a special needs trusts and pooled trusts. The assets from the trust can be used to enhance the life of the beneficiary while still allowing them to qualify for needs-based Medicaid programs. The trust serves as a supplement to needs-based program benefits. There are first party and third party special needs trusts. Florida also allows for a pooled trust, which is an alternative to the special needs trusts. A charity sets up the trusts and allows beneficiaries to pool their resources. All three types of trusts are very important tools to consider in Medicaid planning.
For a summary of the qualifications for Medicaid programs see the attached brochure from the Florida Department of Children and Families.