Life Planning Law Firm, P.A. Life Planning Law Firm, P.A. is an Elder Law firm devoted exclusively to the areas of Estate Planning, VA Benefit Planning, and Medicaid Planning. We incorporate an â€œelder-centeredâ€? approach to the practice of law that helps families respond to every challenge caused by illness or disability of an elderly loved one. The essence of Life Planning Law Firm is we provide care coordination, family education, health and financial decision making, assisted living and care advocacy, crisis intervention, support, and many other services surrounding the rights and needs of seniors. And we offer the peace of mind that results when the right choices are made to ensure that elderly loved ones are safe and getting the right care while preserving family resources.
What is an Elder Law Attorney? An Elder Law Attorney is aware of the real life problems, health and otherwise, that seniors experience as they age. They are tied into a system of social workers, psychologists, geriatric care managers, and other elder care professionals who may be of assistance to their clients. Attorneys who work with the elderly bring more to their practice than just experience with the legal issues. They have an understanding of the elderly that allows them and their staff to ignore the myths related to aging. At the same time, they recognize and empathize with some of the true physical and mental difficulties that often accompany the aging process.
Catherine Csaky, M.S.
Elder Law Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
Public Benefits Specialist
Why Hire an Elder Lawyer? There are strict eligibility requirements for Medicaid and VA Benefits, including limits on your income and assets. Despite these strict requirements, you do not need to completely impoverish yourself in order to receive benefits for nursing home care. Medicaid and VA Planning, when done properly and on a timely basis by a qualified Elder Lawyer, is a legal and ethical way to qualify for benefits while still retaining your familyâ€™s current and future financial security.
Client Service Coordinator
Elder Care Coordinator
Free Consultations & Home Visits
(941) 914- 6000
Medicaid 3 Steps to Obtaining Medicaid: 1. ASSESS. We do a comprehensive analysis of the client’s financial and medical condition. An individual plan is then created to preserve the client’s assets by moving the assets according to Medicaid rules. 2. IMPLEMENT. We make sure the plan is properly and legally implemented in a timely manner to ensure eligibility as quickly as possible. This includes the preparation of any and all necessary legal documents. 3. APPLY. We review and organize the client’s case in preparation for the Medicaid application. Then we prepare and submit the Medicaid application on the client’s behalf, as well as follow up on any subsequent requests from Medicaid.
Did You Know? The average cost of a nursing facility in Florida is $7,362 a month, and the average stay is 38 months Imagine spending $279,756 in 3 years!
Things to Remember • Do not apply for Medicaid unless you have a plan to make sure you qualify. •
The best advice we can give you is this… START PLANNING NOW. No one knows what the future will bring. The earlier you start preparing, the fewer surprises there will be. A LITTLE planning now can make a BIG difference for your loved ones later on.
• Get the right help from an experienced and qualified Elder Law attorney.
Medicaid MYTHS... “I have to give away everything I own to get Medicaid” “I have to wait 5 years after giving anything away to get Medicaid” “If I put my all my property into my spouse’s name, then I will be eligible for Medicaid” “If I privately pay for a nursing home, I must spend all of my money before I can get Medicaid”
”A Power of Attorney gives my Agent the authority to transfer property out of my name if I need Medicaid” “I can give away $13,000 per year under Medicaid rules” “All of my monthly income must be used to pay my spouse’s nursing home bill” “Hiding my assets can help me be eligible for Medicaid”
Allowable Assets Generally speaking, assets fall into two categories: “countable“ and “non-countable”. To qualify for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident can only have $2,000 in countable assets. The spouse of a resident can keep $113,640 of the couple’s joint assets. Certain assets are not counted in arriving at this amount.
It’s Never Too Late Medicaid planning can begin anytime, even if your loved one is already living in a skilled nursing facility. But the earlier you plan, the more options you will have to protect what is important to you.
Get the Right Help Medicaid planning is a very complicated process. You need expert advice and assistance to keep your assets safe while meeting the strict requirements to qualify for benefits.
VA Aid & Attendance Special Care Pension for Wartime Veterans
Did You Know? 2013 Aid & Attendance Pension can pay up to: $24,650/yr for a married Veteran $20,793/yr for an unmarried Veteran $13,360/yr for the surviving spouse If the Veteran qualifies, Aid & Attendance funds are provided tax free and in addition to their monthly pension and Social Security benefits. If you or someone you love is a Veteran and needs help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving, mobility, or other personal needs assistance, the Aid & Attendance benefit can provide the funds they need to pay for that help. Veterans and surviving spouses may be eligible for monthly Aid & Attendance benefits if they have high expenses for care, including nursing home expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance or other sources. Aid & Attendance benefits can make a real difference. However, filing a claim can be complex and time-sensitive. Veteran’s Benefits are not awarded automatically…to receive them, you have to apply!
Qualifying for Benefits Who is eligible for Aid & Attendance? There are 3 criteria for eligibility – Service, Medical and Financial. Service: The basic service qualification is that the Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military duty with at least one of those days during a wartime period. In addition, the Veteran must have received an Honorable discharge.
Medical: The Veteran or surviving spouse must show that they require the “aid and attendance” of another person to perform the basic activities of daily living. Financial: The Veteran and/or surviving spouse must also pass two financial tests: (i) an Asset test, and (ii) an Income test. Qualifying under the Asset test can be tricky. For the Asset test, each application is evaluated individually, and though it is commonly thought that $80,000 in assets is acceptable, the final decision depends on the VA case reviewer.
Applying for Benefits The VA application process can be complicated and time-consuming. For some Veterans, reallocating assets and income may be necessary before the application can even begin – and those reallocations can have a significant impact on future Medicaid eligibility. With proper planning in advance, making qualifying transfers can legally reduce a Veteran’s assets to comply with VA eligibility requirements. One wrong decision can disqualify you from BOTH VA and Medicaid benefits! It is not easy to calculate actual benefits, so you should consider consulting an “accredited” VA attorney.
What is a VA Accredited Attorney? VA accreditation refers to the authority granted by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to only those attorneys who meet the standards established by the VA. To receive accreditation, Federal Law requires an attorney to pass a written examination and to complete ongoing continuing legal education. The VA accreditation system is designed to ensure that lawyers who represent Veterans have a thorough understanding of the VA health and benefit systems, so that they may provide quality assistance in the preparation and presentation all VA claims.
Remember...Timing Is Everything The Benefits of Medicaid & VA Planning Pay close attention to your aging parent. Does the normally tidy house now seem neglected? Do you notice memory problems, confusion, or physical unsteadiness? Discovering that a family member’s physical or mental health is declining can be heavy on the heart. It can be also hard on your finances. The need for nursing home care does not have to be devastating. A visit with a qualified Elder Law attorney – one who has experience helping families sort through their long-term care nursing home options and
understands how the Medicaid & VA programs might apply to their situation – can help you prepare for the future with a clear plan for how to pay for a nursing home without going broke or losing the family home. A stay in a nursing home is a substantial cost, and only rising. The average nursing home stay is three years or more. In the state of Florida, the average monthly cost of a nursing home is $7,362. Nursing home costs can easily impoverish even the most well-to-do families.
It Pays to Plan Ahead The goal of Medicaid & VA planning is to work within the Medicaid & VA guidelines to convert enough of your countable assets into exempt assets so that, when the time comes for nursing home care, you qualify for benefits. Medicaid & VA planning involves working with an experienced Elder Law attorney. Your attorney can help you transform your countable assets into exempt assets in a way that optimally benefits you and your family, and do so outside of the look-back period. They can also help you avoid recovery of your assets by Florida Medicaid agency, and preserve those assets so that they can be passed on to your children after you and your spouse are gone.
Attorney Kevin Pillion received his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and has been practicing law since 1990. He is a member of The Florida Bar, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Florida Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Life Care Planning Law Firms Association, Veterans Benefits Committee of the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar, and he is Accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Kevin is licensed to practice law in both Florida and Washington, DC and is a Certified Public Accountant.
(941) 914-6000 www.LifeLawFirm.com