Elder Law focuses upon issues that confront our senior citizens. As a person ages, there are actions that he or she can take in preparation for the possible need to reside in a nursing home or assisted living facility or to receive other costly long-term care. Such actions include Medicaid planning, which can help protect the property and assets of a senior who requires such care.
Beyond the garden-variety legal instruments associated with conventional estate planning (such as, for example, Wills, Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations and Advance Healthcare Directives), the following special planning instruments can help secure vital Medicaid benefits when most needed and thus protect a senior's assets from being depleted by the costs of long-term care:
SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST:
Direct ownership of certain assets might preclude a senior-in-need from qualifying for vital Medicaid benefits. Placement of assets in a Special Needs Trust can shield a senior-in-need from being deprived of such benefits, even while reserving a backup fund for additional and/or emergency care.
QUALIFIED INCOME TRUST:
Income over a certain threshold also might preclude a senior-in-need from qualifying for vital Medicaid benefits. Directing income into a Qualified Income Trust can enable a senior-in-need to receive such benefits, even while maintaining his or her income level.
PERSONAL SERVICE CONTRACT:
A senior-in-need also has the option of entering into a contract with a trusted person, such as a relative or friend, to act as a paid caregiver. As a result, the caregiver may be able to receive compensation from Medicaid for the reasonable value of his or her services. This instrument is particularly helpful where the caregiver must forfeit a job or hourly wages to deliver care to his or her loved one.