K. Gabriel Heiser, J.D., has focused exclusively on estate planning and Medicaid eligibility planning, including trusts, estates, gifts, and related tax issues, since graduating from Boston University School of Law in 1983. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in nursing home law, and believes that people should start planning now for long term care.
The fact is that in 2010, more than 7,000 people turned 65 years old or older every single day, a figure that is predicted to rise in 2011. Further, an AARP survey revealed that only 4 in 10 of those people feel they will be financially secure for their golden years. For many, that lack of financial stability will transform from being a worry to becoming a crisis if they discover they’ll need any kind of assisted living.
“The average monthly cost of a nursing home today is $6,917 per month, and a typical Alzheimer’s patient will spend $395,000 for their nursing home care after diagnosis,” said Heiser, author of How to Protect Your Family’s Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets (www.MedicaidSecrets.com). “Those costs are only going to rise, so it’s important to plan now. One important benefit to consider is Medicaid, which can help offset a good amount of those costs, but only if you know what it takes to qualify for those benefits.”
The mistake a lot of people make is thinking that they can’t qualify for Medicaid, according to Heiser.
“Many feel that because they own a home or have some assets that they can’t qualify for Medicaid help with their nursing home and doctor’s bills,” he said. “The truth is there are a variety of assets people can own and still qualify. It’s just a matter of knowing the rules, and making a plan to meet those requirements.”
Heiser listed the asset limits for those applying for Medicaid. They include:
· Cash – You can possess $2,000 cash that will not be counted as an asset in determining your Medicaid eligibility.
· Home – There is a $500,000 exclusion toward your home, meaning that if your home is valued at $500,000 or less at the time of your application, it is excluded as an asset. Some states use the higher permitted exemption of $750,000.
· Car – Up until recently, you could exclude only one car at a value of $4,500 or less, however that law has been changed. Now, one automobile of ANY current market value is excluded on your application.
· Funeral and Burial Funds – If you have a pre-planned funeral or memorial arrangement, the entire value of that plan is excluded. If you do not, a separate bank account that contains $1,500 toward funeral expenses can be excluded. If you have pre-purchased burial plots, you can exclude not only the costs of the plot for the applicant, but for the entire family, and still be eligible for Medicaid.
· Property – According to federal law, any real or personal property that is essential to self-support, regardless of value or rate of return, is excluded. That could include farms, rental properties and other real estate investments that generate income necessary for self-support. For rental income, however, the property must generate at least 6 percent of its value annually in order to qualify for the exclusion.
· Life Insurance – Only the cash value of a life insurance policy owned by the applicant is counted, thus, all term policies are ignored.
If you would like to interview Gabriel Heiser or request a review copy of How to Protect Your Family’s Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs contact Ginny Grimsley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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