Elder Law Attorney Maryland
Elder law focuses on various planning needs that individuals have as they age and become concerned about dealing with various disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and other general debilitating conditions that may often have a significant financial impact on individuals as they age.
The average cost of nursing home care in Maryland can be roughly between $10,000 to $15,000 per month. Without proper planning, a long-term nursing home stay could significantly deplete the assets of many individuals. Fortunately, there are many planning options that may be available to protect assets from this potential cost, including obtaining Medical Assistance (Medicaid) coverage.
Pre-planning options such as making gifts, establishing certain types of irrevocable trusts, or titling real estate in a certain manner, may be desirable for certain individuals. However, proper care and attention should be undertaken when doing this planning. For Maryland residents, if this planning is done prior to five years from needing to apply for Medicaid benefits (the “look-back” period), then assets can generally be fully protected. Otherwise, then there is typically a penalty period assessed during which time Medicaid will not pay for any nursing home care.
Unfortunately for many individuals, it may be too late to do pre-planning, as they may not be able to wait five years before applying for Medicaid benefits to cover nursing home care. In fact, they may already be in a nursing home, facing a large monthly bill. Fortunately, depending on variables, there are planning options that may enable a married couple with a spouse living at home to be able to “keep” almost all of the assets or may enable a single individual to “protect” close to half of the individual’s assets for other loved ones.
Many individuals may have done a “simple will” at some point, but they may be surprised to learn that their power of attorney may not have certain important provisions, if they were to become disabled, that would enable their agent (attorney-in-fact) to undertake certain planning to protect assets and qualify for Medicaid in an accelerated manner.
Many of these “elder law” planning options can be rather complex and planning that makes sense for one individual may not make sense for another, due to many variables and considerations, such as capital gains and income taxes. Therefore, an experienced elder law attorney can often provide invaluable advice and guidance throughout this process.
Joe Mathis is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). He frequently handles many various aspects of elder law planning, from discussing pre-planning options, to handling the Medicaid application process, and he would be happy to discuss this planning further with you.