1. Can the State take my house if I go into a nursing home?
Answer: Very unlikely; however, if you fail to properly plan your assets
and estate when you apply for Medicaid, you could open the door for this to happen.
2. Can I transfer all of my assets to qualify for Medicaid?
Answer: If you transfer your assets to your spouse and the combined assets of you and your spouse are valued less than the required Medicaid asset limit, you may still qualify for Medicaid. You cannot transfer to anyone else without incurring a penalty. However, there are planning techniques an Elder Law Attorney can help you with.
3. Can a non-attorney help me qualify for Medicaid?
Answer: No. A recent Florida Supreme Court ruling found that work associated with helping a family become eligible for Medicaid is legal in nature. As such, it is the unlicensed practice of law for a non-attorney to offer this assistance. A non-attorney CAN provide assistance with the application once the individual is otherwise qualified.
4. How much can I own and qualify for Medicaid?
A. If you are single or widowed, you can have the following:
1. Home and personal effects;
3. Irrevocable funeral arrangements;
4. $2,000 countable assets;
5. Certain life insurance (i.e. less than $1,500 cash value);
6. Certain income producing properties
7. Certain retirement accounts
8. Will retain $105 a month in income
9. If your gross (pretax) income is greater than $2,205 an Income
Trust will be required.
B. If you are married, then you can have all of the above, plus
the spouse can have:
1. $120,900 in countable assets
2. Unlimited income if there is no need for support from the ill
spouse; otherwise, you may keep $2,030 and may appeal
depending on your circumstance to keep up to $3,023.
3. Certain retirement assets.
5. If I become incapacitated can my children make financial and medical decisions for me?
Answer: Depends. If you have signed advance directives then they may be able to make these decisions for you. Not all Power of Attorney's are the same. Some Power of Attorney’s work for estates with tax issues, some work for middle class estates, some for retirees, etc. You need one that is specific for your situation in life. The law in Florida changed in 2011 and many documents are still being used which do not comply with this new rule. Further, in 2015 the law changed regarding Designation of Health Care Surrogates; yet, still many sources continue to operate as if the law didn’t change. Be careful where you obtain your documents.
If you have not signed any advance directives it is unlikely they will be able to act. Without the advance directives, your family will likely be forced to open a guardianship, which has become an extremely expensive and tiring process for all involved.
Jason A. Waddell is a Board Certified Florida Elder Law Attorney who practices on the Panhandle of Florida.