Sunday, February 22, 2009

Will the Nursing Home Take My Farm? The role of medical assitance planning.

As we get older, the possibility of entering a nursing home, and the concern for how to pay for it, becomes an increased worry for many people. If one requires medical assistance from the state to pay for nursing home care, the state can recuperate what they can by placing liens on certain assets held by the individual, including homestead and farm property. Accordingly, many people worry about what the government can or cannot take and how they can go about it.

First, the state government evaluates whether someone is eligible for medical assistance both by looking at their monthly income and the amount of assets they have. If the state determines they are eligible, the state will pay for the nursing home care. If individuals have made prior gifts during what's called the look back period, the state will "look back" and impute the income to the individual. The state won't go to the recipients of the gifts to recuperate the costs, they just may not find the individual eligible for assistance. Additionally, in many instances, if the individual is otherwise eligible but owns real property, the state may find that person eligible and give assistance, but will place a lien on the property to recuperate the money spent on the care.

Planning ahead is the key for medicare assistance planning. Working with both a licensed attorney in the state that you plan to receive care in and a financial advisor can help you prevent a situation where you need assistance, but either are found ineligible or have your real property incur a state medical lien.