If you, or a loved one, are faced with figuring out how to pay for the often exorbitant costs associated with long-term care you may be concerned about losing important assets in the process. One question we often hear from people in your situation is “ Can the nursing home take my house? ” Only an experienced estate planning attorney can evaluate your specific situation and provide you with an individualized answer to that question; however, a better understanding of the Medicaid eligibility guidelines as well as the Medicaid Estate Recovery program may also be beneficial.
Because neither the Medicare program nor most private health insurance policies cover the cost of long-term care, many older individuals end up turning to the Medicaid program to help cover long-term care costs. Medicaid, however, is a “needs based” program, meaning that the program is intended to provide healthcare coverage to low income individuals and families. As such, the program has both assets an income limits that cannot be exceeded. The asset limit is typically very low – as low as $14,850 a person. To qualify for benefits, therefore, you cannot have countable resources valued at over the program limit.
The good news is that your primary residence is usually not considered a countable resource, meaning it is not counted when calculating your assets. That does not mean, however, that your home is not at risk of being used to pay for your care down the road. The Medicaid Estate Recovery program is charged with trying to recover funds spent on nursing home or long-term care costs for program recipients after their death. This is accomplished by placing a lien on real property and/or by filing a claim against the estate of the recipient during probate. The Estate Recovery program has limits though. You home remains safe if it is the residence of your spouse, brother or sister (who has an equity interest and was residing in the home at least one year prior to the nursing home admission), or a blind or disabled child or a child under the age of 21 in the family.
The best way to avoid worrying about the fate of your home and the equity you have in it is to include Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan. If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia. by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.