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Why Estate Planning is Essential: Avoid Costly Mistakes

“My mother has too much money, so I guess she has to pay privately for her home care”, Mary told me recently.

As an Elder Law Attorney for over 17 years, I can tell you that I hear this almost daily.  We live in such an on-demand world these days that we look to the internet for all of our answers.  Pain in your side, WebMD will give me the answer. No need to pay that co-payment for real advice, right?  Wrong!

While the internet is a great source of information, it doesn’t replace the need to speak to a professional about your specific case, whether legal or medical.

In the case of Mary, who thinks that mom has too much money for Medicaid to pay for home care, without the guidance of an experienced Elder Law attorney, she will spend down tens of thousands of dollars before she sees any relief.  What happens if she spends down all of mom’s money and then Medicaid doesn’t give mom the care for all of the hours that Mary thinks she needs?

Then there is Sue.  Sue also did her research online and she found out that mom has “too much income”.  She has also decided that Medicaid wouldn’t possibly pay for the help her mom needs because her income is over the Medicaid allowance and there is nothing that she can do.  What Sue did not know is that Medicaid rules vary from state to state.  What she read on the internet may not have even been related to New York laws!

As a result, Sue is not only struggling to contribute her own funds to pay for mom’s care, but she is also spending all of her “down time” away from her own family so that she can help keep costs down while helping to take care of her mom.

In both scenarios, an Elder Law Attorney would have reviewed mom’s individual assets and income and needs to come up with a plan.  The attorney would have told Mary about the transfers that Medicaid allows, while still providing Medicaid home care coverage for mom.  The attorney would have done a cost-benefit analysis with Sue to determine if a pooled income trust was a viable option for mom’s income so that she can qualify for Medicaid home care services without a complete spend down of her monthly income.

While the internet may be a great starting point full of resources, it is ALWAYS best to speak with an experienced professional about your own personal issues to create the plan that is best for you and your family.

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