How to Protect Your Home in a Medicaid Application

For most people, the home is their most important asset, for many reasons, but primarily because it might be their largest valued asset financially and sentimentally. Whether you want the home to stay in the family or want the value of the home to pass on to family, this is a discussion I often have with clients who are contemplating a Medicaid application.

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Revocable Trust or Irrevocable Trust: What is the Best Option for Me?

Trusts are great tools for you to pass assets to your heirs, whether that be to children, other family members, or charities. However, not all trusts are created equally. Sometimes, we use revocable trusts for one client, while another client established an irrevocable trust. When does it make sense to use a revocable trust compared to an irrevocable trust?

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How To Use Funds From a Special Needs Trust

Special Needs Trusts are in place to protect the benefits of an adult or child with special needs and are exempt from Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A properly drafted special needs trust gives (you) the trustee, or someone you appoint, the sole discretion to use the funds for the benefit of your family member. A question I get asked often is what can I use the funds for, and are there any limitations?

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Should I Share My Estate Planning Information with My Family?

When establishing your estate plan, you generally review your assets with an attorney. This ensures you create a plan according to your wishes. Your attorney will review things like beneficiary designations to determine those designations follow your requests and provide advice on the estate plan most appropriate for your assets. The question that then arises is should I share this information with my family?

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Estate Planning Misconceptions

Many people are under the misconception that “estate planning” is primarily drafting a last will and testament; however, it’s much more than that. As part of estate planning, you’ll consider durable general (financial) powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, living wills, guardianships and more. Estate planning is more than planning for your death; it is also planning for your future.

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Special Needs Insights – Retirement Planning

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to continue our Special Needs Insights series. Our short videos are designed 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: Planning for Retirement

Attorney Ethan Welch provides tips on planning for retirement when you have an adult child with a disability.

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Gathering the Documents Needed When Applying for Medicaid Can Be Overwhelming

When you become financially eligible for Medicaid, the next step is to apply and it’s generally a straightforward process.  You fill out an application with basic information about yourself and submit it to the county Job and Family Services (JFS) where you currently reside.

However, the next steps are crucial and can become overwhelming.

Be prepared to send JFS current financial statements of every account you and your spouse own, along with income verification from every source of income received by you and your spouse. Technically, JFS can require you to provide 60 months (five years) of statements because of the “five-year-look-back” period. This is because JFS will want to know whether you transferred or gifted any assets to someone else before applying for Medicaid.

In addition to all the financial records, JFS wants to ensure you are a citizen and verify what medical insurance you receive. These documents include, but are not limited to, State IDs, Social Security cards, Medicare cards, Medicare Supplement cards, birth certificates and marriage certificates.

Navigating this process can be mind-boggling and working with an experienced Elder Law Attorney can ensure financial eligibility and take the stress off of you when applying.  The attorney will tell you exactly what documents you will need and handle the application process with JFS, saving you the hassle of organizing what could be hundreds of pages of documents.

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Why a Living Will is Important

Some clients are hesitant about signing a Living Will. Many believe that signing a Living Will is a death sentence and the doctor will not save them if they are in severe distress. Others believe signing a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in a hospital is equivalent to a Living Will. However, a Living Will’s purpose is far from these beliefs.

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Who is the Perfect Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is a broad legal term. Essentially, a fiduciary is a person who is invested with rights and powers to be exercised for the benefit of another person.[1] A fiduciary in the context of this article is an administrator of an estate, a trustee of a trust, a court appointed guardian, or an agent of a power of attorney. Some people are able to easily name a fiduciary, often selecting their spouse or only child. However, other people struggle when there are not enough or too many options from which to choose.

To give a short answer, there is no such thing as the “perfect fiduciary.” The more appropriate question to ask is, “Who is the most suitable fiduciary?” For a majority of cases, a spouse is the most appropriate fiduciary. If one has no spouse and multiple children, some things to consider are:

  1. Who is most financially savvy?
  2. Who is more attuned to healthcare?
  3. Who is geographically closest?

If a person has no spouse or children, a close relative or friend may be appropriate. A family member or close family friend is usually the less expensive option. Above all else, honesty and trustworthiness are qualities you want in a fiduciary.

Some people may have complicated or vast assets. In terms of appointing an executor of an estate or trustee of a trust, it may be appropriate to appoint a corporate fiduciary to administer such assets. This is especially the case if family members or close friends are

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