If you hope to pass your hard-earned assets on to your children and grandchildren, you may find the exceedingly high cost of nursing home care getting in the way of that noble goal. It is incredibly easy to spend through your assets after experiencing serious health issues requiring long-term care.
Fortunately, the law provides methods for you to protect your assets and keep your family’s future secure. With the assistance of a licensed attorney, you can plan to protect your assets while ensuring access to the care you need.
Why You Need to Plan Ahead for Asset Protection
Dealing with the hardship of out-of-pocket costs for a nursing home’s services is the last thing you need to worry about when experiencing declining health. Planning ahead is the best option to protect your assets while maintaining eligibility for programs such as Medicaid.
A skilled North Carolina asset protection attorney can help you save your money and be treated fairly so you aren’t blindsided by high costs and complicated asset laws. We can assist you in anticipating your needs while navigating the complex legal structure of government programs for seniors who require long-term care.
Giving Away Assets Is Not the Answer
You may have considered transferring assets to your family now in preparation for Medicaid eligibility down the line, but this approach can actually cause more problems than it solves. Medicaid employs a five-year look-back period in North Carolina that counts all of your assets over the last half-decade. Under this stipulation of the program, giving money to family members or selling assets below market value may result in penalties that force you to wait longer for coverage.
Depending on your health and employment circumstances, you may also need to know how to manage ongoing income amounts. North Carolina's Medicaid income limits are updated every year in April, which is why you need a knowledgeable asset protection attorney to help with your planning and monitor your changing financial situation.
Start Making a Plan Now
Medicare is a health insurance program available to all seniors, while Medicaid is a program for low-income adults. Medicare only covers short-term stays at a nursing home, which is why Medicaid benefits are vital to seniors who are no longer able to live independently.
Currently, these key elements of your estate are all exempt from the Medicaid asset requirement in North Carolina:
- Your home
- Your primary vehicle
- Up to $2,000 in the bank
Additional exemptions cover assets such as a prepaid funeral and burial, IRAs or 401(k)s paying out a monthly income, and Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts (MAPT) held for more than five years. Exemptions are more generous when there is a spouse who will be remaining at home.
An attorney who knows the specifics of state law can help turn your countable assets into non-countable assets and protect your money while still affording a potentially lengthy nursing home stay.
Not all asset protection strategies are the right fit for every client. Talk with us so we can come up with the best way to give you peace of mind and keep your assets within the family. Our experienced elder care legal team may be able to assist you with all of these strategies and more:
- Utilizing the “half a loaf” strategy of gifting some money to your family and then paying the difference over time
- Setting money aside as a Medicaid funeral trust that doesn’t count towards your asset limit
- Employing a community spouse Medicaid annuity by transferring assets to your spouse and then purchasing an income annuity
- Setting up a personal service contract to potentially reimburse family members for assisting in your long-term care
- Investing your existing assets over the $2,000 limit into exempt properties or businesses
- Qualifying for the North Carolina “medically needy” program to spend down excess assets and gain assistance in covering nursing home costs
Let Our Asset Protection Team Work For You
At Legacy Lawyers, our goal is to protect what you’ve earned over your lifetime and keep you comfortable even when you require expensive nursing home services. We can act as a trusted advisor so you save as much of your nest egg as possible while still receiving top-quality care. Please contact us today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to discuss your asset protection needs.