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“If You Try…You Get What You Need”

“You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes you might find You get what you need.”

– Song by the Rolling Stones entitled “You
Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Excuse me for stealing from a song, but that phrase popped into my mind during a recent meeting with a new client.

I am always amazed at the number of people who try to “go it alone” when it comes to long term care planning. The client that I mentioned above came to me only after the family had sold much of his land to pay for his care. If they had met with me earlier, we could have put a plan in place that would have preserved the family farm, and would have saved the family literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Medicaid laws are not user friendly. That is probably the biggest understatement that I have made this year.

If you go it alone, Medicaid laws are not going to give you everything that you are entitled to. I have seen it over and over and over again. More than once, my staff’s heart has been broken when they talk to someone and find out what all they have done that many times is irreversible or irreparable.

As the song goes, you have to try to get what you need, though that may not be everything that you want (though sometimes it can be). The law provides that a married couple can shelter up to $109,560 in assets for protection of the spouse that is not in the nursing home. But with proper planning, other property can be sheltered so that the spouse not in the nursing home can continue to live comfortably.

The law also allows for protection of income. In the situation of a couple where one member of the couple is going into a nursing home, the other spouse can keep over $1,800 per month, and in certain circumstances, can keep up to $2,600 per month (based on what is called excess shelter expenses). Under some circumstances, a family business can be preserved.

Under certain circumstances, the children can continue to operate the farm without it being sold. Under certain circumstances, the nursing home spouse’s IRA does not have to be cashed out, but can also provide a retirement for the other spouse. Many times assets that would ordinarily be required to be spent down for nursing home care can be converted to non-countable assets.

But you have to try! You have to make some move to get what you need.

I just returned from a meeting of other elder law attorneys. Without going into great detail, it is not a friendly place out there when an elderly or chronically ill person is trying to get long term care. The changes in the law really benefit those who engage in long range planning. Even those who find themselves in emergency situations can many times find relief and can protect “what they need.”

If we can be of help to you, please give us a call.


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