Medicaid planning: The risks of doing it on your own

Medicaid planning: The risks of doing it on your own

vectorstock_2078557According to the Congressional Budget Office, research suggests that more than two-thirds of seniors over the age of 65 will need some type of assistance during the remaining years of their life to deal with a loss in their ability to function independently.

Although the price of long-term care varies, LongTermCare.gov estimates that it costs:

  • $6,235 a month for a semi-private room in a nursing home facility
  • $21 an hour for the assistance of a home health aide
  • $3,293 a month for care in an assisted living facility
  • $67 per day for needed services in a day health care center

To combat the high expenses of long-term care, many seniors apply for Medicaid. In the past, people would turn to an estate planning attorney to help them prepare for their future care arrangements and apply for this program. However, today, those starting their estate plan skip over finding an attorney and create their estate plan using online resources. Although this may be convenient, many families and senior citizens risk their financial stability by handling the Medicare planning process on their own. 

Why do people plan by themselves? 

Even though people put their home, life-savings and best interests at risk when they go about the estate planning process by themselves, they often do it because they want to save money. However, this can ultimately end up costing more in the end. For example, many seniors qualify for Medicaid benefits without realizing they are eligible and continue to get rid of their assets. What they don’t understand is that their additional resources can be protected by making exempt transfers, providing income for a spouse or through another approved solution. This can end up costing seniors tens of thousands of dollars in expenditures that are not necessary.

Determining when seniors could qualify for Medicaid benefits requires numerous qualifications involving shelter costs, nursing home expenses, assets and more. In addition to an assessment of the elderly person’s goals, these calculations should be made as soon as possible after admission to a care center to ensure that Medicaid benefits can be received. 

Other mistakes to avoid 

In addition to creating health care directives by themselves, senior citizens should avoid letting their nursing home fill out and submit their Medicaid application, thinking it’s too late to plan for benefits, or rely on the advice of friends and family members. During the Medicaid planning process, seniors should consult with an attorney who can provide guidance and direction during the initial planning stages and ensure that mistakes that could cause significant financial harm are avoided.

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