Has the time come for your aging parent or other loved one to enter a nursing home? If so, it can be tough for many reasons. Financial concerns, however, need not be one of them if you have put the proper plans in place. It may be best for Wisconsin seniors to put such plans in place as soon as possible, far in advance of the need for nursing home care, but there are still options for those that may need more immediate nursing home care.

In order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home costs, you cannot have many assets outside your primary home and a limited amount of personal valuables like jewelry and household goods. An elder law attorney can advise you on the best course of action to shield your other assets so you may qualify for Medicaid. This may involve creating an irrevocable Medicaid trust, with an independent trustee, who could distribute income from the assets in the trust to you during your lifetime if it is necessary. By doing this, you will lose control over the assets and remove them from the Medicaid calculation. At your death, the remaining assets will go to whatever beneficiary you have named. Alternatively, you may wish to pass assets directly to your children and grandchildren, if you are comfortable with their having control of the money. Whichever strategy you choose, keep in mind that you will not retain the ability to recall the assets even if you need the money. In order to avoid having the assets counted for purposes of Medicaid qualification, you have to relinquish control. 

Medicaid has a 5-year, 60 month, “lookback” rule when considering which assets may disqualify you from the program. This means that any assets you want excluded from consideration must be transferred at least 5 years prior to when you need to enter a nursing home. As you may imagine, it can be best to start planning early under these circumstances. The best way for Wisconsin seniors to protect themselves prior to entering a nursing home may be to consult with a qualified attorney well in advance.

Our office can guide a family through their long-term care planning options. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.