Hickman & Lowder Introduces Special Needs Insights

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to share its Special Needs Insights series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s insight: Special Needs Planning

In our first installment of Special Needs Insights, Attorney David Banas stresses the need for a vision, taking small steps and building your plan from there..

 

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Hickman & Lowder Presents Elder Law Talks, Do I Need a Will?

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to present its new Elder Law Talks series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s episode: Do I Need a Will?

In our first episode of Elder Law Talks, Attorney David Banas addresses the one question he is asked every time he meets a potential client ..

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Now That Mom is on Medicaid, How Can We Protect Dad’s Assets?

Often, when working with clients on getting a plan in place for Mom, applying for Medicaid and getting her settled in the nursing home, I am asked, “Now what do I do to plan for and protect Dad?” We’ve preserved the home and maximized income and resources for him, but now what?  Is he protected if anything else may happen?

First, be sure to put the house, the car and all of the bank accounts in Dad’s name alone.  This ensures that when Mom dies, there is nothing in her name that the state can claim through estate recovery.  Second, re-build Dad’s estate plan and remove Mom as beneficiary on his Will and any other accounts. This protects Mom should Dad die before her, as you want to avoid Mom inheriting anything which would interrupt her Medicaid eligibility.  You also want to have surrogate decision makers in place (power of attorney for health care and finances) in case Dad’s health and/or cognition declines.

Finally, talk with an experienced elder law attorney about the possibility of a second round of asset protection planning, depending on Dad’s health.  Perhaps steps could be taken to ensure the home will be fully preserved even in the event that Dad would need nursing home care in the future.

Good planning never ends, it just proceeds to the next phase.

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The Nursing Home Said I Don’t Need a Lawyer to Apply for Medicaid. What Do I Do?

I work collaboratively with dozens of nursing home and assisted living facilities when clients need to apply for Medicaid. I find facility staff to be some of the most Medicaid-knowledgeable people in the world, but I’ve also seen too many cases where families relied on the facility to guide them through a Medicaid application, and big problems arose.

Applying for Medicaid is not exactly rocket science, but it is fraught with pitfalls and traps that can have devastating financial implications for families.  It would be hard to list all the possible issues that could come up, but at this time, it will take the County at least 60 days to reach a decision regarding a nursing home Medicaid application. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, some Medicaid applications are still not decided after nearly six months. This means that if something wasn’t completed correctly during the application process, or a bank account was missed or income not correctly calculated, a denial could be issued six months after filing, making the family potentially liable for $50,000 + in nursing home bills.

To avoid complications, like the one above, I encourage anyone going through the Medicaid application process to contact an experienced elder law attorney to see if they can help.  When families contact me, for example, they can expect that I will work collaboratively with the facilities to ensure that the facility’s financial interests are protected, but not at the expense of my clients.  I enjoy taking the burden and anxiety away

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Medicaid Planning May Be Most Beneficial for Those with Little Savings

It’s common for me to speak with families about Medicaid planning, and often, the idea of such planning is immediately dismissed as unnecessary because Mom and Dad “only” have $50,000 in savings, a house and a car. The family assumes that since there is only $50,000 in liquid assets to spend down, they need to spend that as quickly as possible to obtain Medicaid eligibility.  What they don’t know is that when assets are relatively low, financing long-term care with the Medicaid program is more about protecting the healthy spouse that’s living in the home than securing payment for the ill spouse’s nursing home.

Let’s say Dad has a stroke and needs to go into a nursing home, and Mom remains healthy, but her income is only $1,100 per month from social security. Instead of spending the $50,000 on Dad’s nursing home until it’s depleted below the Medicaid asset limit, we can design a plan that allows Mom to keep the home, the car and about $25,000 in cash while using the other $25,000 to benefit her by paying off the car, the mortgage or putting a new roof on the home. The point is that everything the couple owned when Dad went into the nursing home, with good planning, can be utilized for the benefit of Mom as she lives at home in the community.

Mom would also be entitled to enough of Dad’s income, in addition to her own $1,100 of Social Security, to ensure she has enough

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Your COVID-19 Practical Preparedness Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for all of us.  Economic, psychological, and most important, physical health is on the top of everyone’s mind during just about all waking hours.  We must stay strong for our vulnerable and remember that with the right preparedness and planning, this too shall pass.

Estate plans are vitally important to our overall preparedness and peace of mind.  Any preparedness plan involves ensuring that Health Care and Financial Powers of Attorney and Last Will and Testaments are updated and reflect your desires.  In these uncertain times, there are questions of whether our responses are alarmist or practical.  As part of your practical preparedness plan, you may ask yourself:

  • Am I prepared with my documents if I become hospitalized?
  • Does my current plan do what I want it to?
  • Has the law changed since I last updated my documents?
  • Has my family changed since I last updated my documents?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is one of the more important documents you can have during this time.  This is the document with which you appoint one person, and then one substitute person, to make your health care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so yourself.  If you don’t have one, or need to change the one you do have, now is the time to get this done.

A HIPAA Authorization Form is another important part of your plan.  This document allows you to waive your privacy rights, thereby allowing your loved

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Can I Be Paid for Caring for My Elderly Parent?

Taking care of an elderly parent – even providing necessary supervision – can be the only thing keeping Mom or Dad out of assisted living or a nursing home.  But providing that care can be a full-time endeavor for the caretaker, often requiring significant, life-changing decisions about their own income and living arrangements.  The Medicaid rules are set up to encourage family members to take care of their loved ones in the community if possible (thus preventing Medicaid from paying for nursing home care).  To that end, Medicaid permits caretaker children to be compensated for taking care of Mom or Dad in two ways.

Medicaid considers any transfer of money for less than fair market value to be an “improper transfer,” or a gift.  This means if Mom gives $10,000 to Daughter without getting anything in return, and then Mom needs to apply for Medicaid, a penalty period will be assessed because of the gift.  But if Mom and Daughter enter into a Care Contract together, where it is agreed that Daughter will provide certain personal care services to Mom, such as general transportation, scheduling, housecleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, and bathing, Mom can pay for these services without penalty because Mom is receiving value in return for the payment.  How much Daughter is to be paid on an hourly basis depends on the level of care Mom requires, and some consideration ought to be given to the fact that there is a family relationship and that some of the care

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