Medicaid Planning in Berrien County, MI

Living a long life is an accomplishment worth celebrating. But as we age, we must consider how we’ll get treatment and pay for care. According to the National Council of Aging, the monthly median cost in the United States for a shared room at a nursing home facility is about $7,908 in 2023. Getting a private room is even more expensive. Without proper planning, your savings and assets could be wiped out quickly.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps qualified applicants cover medical expenses, including long-term care. With the help of a Medicaid planning lawyer, you can create a strategy that allows you to qualify for Medicaid legally and protect the property and assets you have worked hard for. Finding the right elder care attorney to help is the best way to protect your legacy and meet your needs.

Serving Southwest Michigan, Legacy Counsel offers comprehensive and meticulous elder law services. Our attorneys will ensure that every aspect of your plan reflects your unique needs, family dynamics, and best interests.

Call 269-932-4017 for a Consultation.

Why a Medicaid Plan is Important

Proper planning can protect your assets and allow you peace of mind.

  • Spend Down to Meet Medicaid Qualifications. If you plan properly, you can legally protect your assets and still qualify for Medicaid.
  • Protect Your Assets From Debts. Long-term care facilities can be expensive; if you aren’t careful, these costs can eat into your assets quickly.
  • Reduce Conflict. While you and your family want what’s best for everyone, finances can strain even the best relationships. A Medicaid plan will ease everyone’s worries connected to your long-term care.
  • Offer Peace of Mind. Preparing for the future can limit your family’s stress if you need to stay at a long-term care facility unexpectedly. With a Medicaid plan in place, you can rest easy knowing your assets and your family are protected.

Our Medicaid Attorneys Can Help:

  • Plan to Qualify for Medicaid
  • Develop a “Spend Down” Strategy
  • Update Existing Wills & Trusts
  • Evaluate Assets & Beneficiaries
  • Provide Support & Guidance

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Why Work With Legacy Counsel?

Our services extend beyond being lawyers who help with the Medicaid application process. We nurture client relationships and remain accessible. From the moment you sign your documents, we commit to being with you and your loved ones every step of the way.

Legacy Clients Benefit From:

  • An Effective Medicaid Plan
  • Clear & Upfront Pricing
  • Regular & Detailed Timelines
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • E-Signature Capability, Virtual Consults & Expedited Services.

Contact Legal Counsel today to book a consultation. We will answer all your questions and address your concerns.

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How to Create a Medicaid Plan in Michigan

Having a plan that lets you qualify for Medicaid and allows you to control your estate is crucial. You need to structure your countable assets with protected assets to receive government benefits that will help keep long-term care affordable.

Your Medicaid plan should evaluate what is a protected asset and what isn’t, designate beneficiaries, and keep your estate secure.

The Difference Between Medicare & Medicaid

Although they are often talked about at the same time, Medicare and Medicaid have significant differences and uses. Medicare is federal health insurance for anyone 65 years of age or older. Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides health coverage to people with limited income and resources.

With the proper planning, your long-term care could be covered by Medicaid.

How Do You Qualify For Medicaid?

Medicaid benefits are meant to help impoverished people pay for the care they deserve. Your eligibility will depend on your financial need. If you exceed these financial limits, you may be able to use estate planning to legally qualify.

The government will examine your assets to determine eligibility for Medicaid. There are countable assets or exempt assets.

Countable Assets

Countable assets include cash, savings or checking accounts, recreational vehicles, investment funds, financial stocks, IRAs, revocable living trusts, or tax-deferred annuities. Other assets could be evaluated and affect your Medicaid eligibility.

Exempt Assets

Assets that do not count toward your eligibility include your personal home (with an equity limit that adjusts for inflation annually), your personal belongings, assets you haven’t been able to sell, assets that you or your spouse cannot legally sell or dispose of, or one of your vehicles.

Planning & Applying for Medicaid in Michigan

After you’ve evaluated your estate, you’ll need to determine if you meet the Medicaid threshold. Your household income should be at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. In 2024, that’s about $18,000 for an individual and $24,000 for a couple.

If you meet this threshold, you can start planning to apply for Medicaid. However, if you need help restructuring your assets, you can work with one of our lawyers to determine how to allocate your resources to meet the Medicaid threshold.

Meeting Medicaid’s Threshold

You can use asset protection trusts to qualify for Medicaid and retain control over your assets. There are several types of trusts you can use that are exempt from Medicaid scrutiny, but you should double-check that you use a trust that is still exempt from evaluation.

Other methods to protect your assets and qualify for Medicaid include spending your extra assets until you meet the asset limit, using a Medicaid-compliant annuity, transferring assets to your spouse, or setting up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. Talk to one of our lawyers to ensure you don’t violate the 5-year lookback period.

Completing the Medicaid Application

There are three Medicaid programs in Michigan you can apply for:

  • Nursing Home Care
  • Home and Community-Based Services
  • Services for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled

Once you’ve determined which program applies to you, you must ensure you meet the criteria to be eligible. Gather the necessary documents, like tax forms, social security documents, and other evidence, to show the value of your assets.

Work with your Medicaid planning attorney to contact your local Michigan Department of Health & Human Services office to complete your application.

Medicaid Planning FAQs

Can My Spouse’s Assets Be Protected?

Through proper planning, you can protect your spouse if you need Medicaid benefits. We can discuss the “Community Spouse Resource Allowance.” When only one spouse applies for Medicaid, their partner can retain $154,140 in assets in 2024. This figure is subject to annual inflation adjustments.

Can I Place My Assets in a Living Trust?

You could protect your assets in a living trust, but this method is counted when determining Medicaid eligibility. Anything placed in a living trust can be reached by nursing homes if you have a debt to pay.

What is the Look-back Period?

The look-back period is when Medicaid officials review an applicant’s finances to ensure they didn’t give away assets or income to meet eligibility limits. In Michigan, the look-back period is five years. Officials are looking for transferred assets or large cash gifts.

What is a Look-Back Penalty?

You could be punished if you violate the Medicaid look-back period. You’ll be declared ineligible to receive Medicaid benefits for a time proportional to your violation. That penalty starts when you apply for Medicaid, not when the violation occurs.

Elder Care Attorneys Serving SW Michigan

Based in St. Joseph, Legacy Counsel PLC is a boutique estate planning and elder care law firm serving Southwest Michigan, including Berrien County, Cass County, Van Buren County, and more.

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