Medicaid Reminders

Elder care It took Jennifer Kaylin 13 months, reams of paperwork and untold hours on hold to get the Title 19 benefits — Medicaid funds for people with limited resources — her father needed to receive nursing home care. In the Oprah Magazine article, “Sanity-Saving Secrets For Caring For Your Aging Parents,” she shares her secrets.

Here are some "Get's" that will help you prepare for the Medicaid application process: 

Get going five years before you think you need to. Medicaid has a five-year look back to all your parents' financial dealings. Which means transactions conducted during that time may be counted in determining their program eligibility. With this requirement, it’s good to have your parents' banks' names and numbers accessible. Regulators are looking at two things: if you're hiding any money and if you've given any away.

 Also, if one or both of your parents still live in the family home and you’d like to keep it, you should try to transfer ownership or set up a trust at least five years before they apply for Medicaid. Although there are some exceptions, typically if you don’t address this issue, you will be forced to sell the home. 

Get a power of attorney. While you might never need this to obtain Medicaid approval for your parents, getting your parents to each sign a power of attorney is a good move. There will be many times when you try to act on your parent’s behalf that people will simply say, "I'll need your POA to help you." Believe it or not, even your parents' cable provider won't talk to you unless you have a power of attorney! 

Get ready for the paperwork. Start a filing system early, because once you send in that initial application, there will be a boatload of questions that will need answering. And with each request, you'll need to include your case number. You should also have easy access (or memorize your parents’ dates of birth and Social Security numbers). 

Make friends. Although you already are, be pleasant and friendly with caseworkers, bank employees, eldercare counselors, and others that assist you with this process. Remember, the old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." People are more apt to help you with questions or problems if you’re nice versus being a brute. 

Get back to your life. When you receive the approval for the Medicaid application, breathe easy. Once approved, there’s an annual "redetermination" process to show that your parents haven't come into wealth. Absent such a windfall, however, the heavy lifting is all over. 

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. 

Reference: Huffington Post, The Oprah Magazine (December 19, 2014) Sanity-Saving Secrets For Caring For Your Aging Parents

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