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Park Ridge IL Medicaid and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Thursday, March 14, 2019

What is Medicaid planning?

When most people think of a comprehensive estate plan in Illinois, they likely think of a last will and testament that names legal guardians for their minor children. They may think of trusts that can transfer their assets outside of probate, quickly and privately or that can protect loved ones with special needs providing for them in a way that does not jeopardize their government benefits. 

Most people have also heard of planning for incapacity documents like financial and medical powers of attorney which appoint trusted agents to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and unable to do so. 

But if you really want a comprehensive estate plan, it should include Medicaid planning. And not every estate planning attorney is knowledgeable and qualified to do it.

Medicaid is a state and federal funded healthcare program for those 65 or older, disabled, or blind who meet the income and assets requirements of the program. Many people look at the $2,000 non-exempt assets limit and assume they won’t qualify for Medicaid, but with proper Medicaid planning and a knowledgeable attorney you may be able to qualify. Depending on your particular situation and needs, there may be methods of legally transferring the way your assets are held that can shield them and enable you to qualify for Medicaid if needed. Preplanning – – planning far in advance of need – – makes it easier to qualify, but last-minute or crisis planning could also work. 

A big challenge to last-minute planning is the five-year lookback period in Illinois. When you apply for Medicaid, the state “looks back” five years to see if you transferred any assets during that time without receiving adequate compensation for them. This prevents people from just giving their assets away to loved ones on the eve of filing for Medicaid in order to impoverish themselves and satisfy income or assets eligibility requirements. If you have such transfers during the lookback period, you may still be eligible for Medicaid but you will be penalized or “docked” the amount of the no consideration transfers. 

Medicaid planning is extremely complicated and requires very specialized knowledge, so it’s important to find a qualified attorney to assist you. The rewards of proper Medicaid planning can be substantial as it can secure the financial future of you and your loved ones in the event you need long-term care in a nursing home

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan, would like to modify an existing one, or need assistance with Medicaid planning, the Law Office of Thomas J. Hansen can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our office in Park Ridge, we assist clients in Cook County, IL as well as Niles, Des Plaines, Glenview, Norridge, and Rosemont.

Thomas J. Hansen, LTD. assists clients in Park Ridge, Cook County, IL as well as Niles, Des Plaines, Glenview, Norridge, and Rosemont.

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