The ABCs of Medicaid Planning

The ABCs of Medicaid Planning

Medicaid planning is a topic that can generate considerable confusion. While Medicaid is a federal program, each state has its own set of rules for eligibility. Under the current Medicaid rules in North Carolina, an individual is not eligible for Medicaid until his or her total assets have been “spent down” to $2,000 or less. What are the exceptions under this calculation? The most notable exclusion to the $2,000 limit is equity in the primary residence. An amount equal to $552,000* in equity may be excluded from the asset calculation. If the spouse or another dependent relative continues to reside in the home, it can be excluded from the asset calculation regardless of equity. One car may also be excluded, provided that vehicle is used to transport the individual to/from medical appointments. Household furnishings and personal property are generally not counted, and term life insurance is excluded (a portion of whole life policies may be excluded, but the remainder is countable). Retirement investments, including annuities and IRAs, are generally countable with some exceptions, depending on the date they were started, how they are titled, the individual’s life expectancy, who funded the account, and other factors. Reducing overall assets to such a low amount can put a serious burden on a spouse or family member. While the value of equity in the home may sound like a lot of money, unless the house is sold or a loan taken against it, the money is not available to pay monthly living expenses, medical bills, etc. Planning ahead to protect a portion of assets may give you peace of mind knowing that...
Finding the Best Long-Term Care Facility for a Loved One

Finding the Best Long-Term Care Facility for a Loved One

Updated for 2017 Placing a loved in a long-term care facility is often one of the hardest decisions a family must make, so you want to find the best long-term care facilities available. As our population has aged, the number and type of these facilities has increased to accommodate the need. There are active adult communities, assisted living centers, special care units (aka “Alzheimer’s Units”), nursing care facilities, and specialized options for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Also available are progressive care campuses that offer residents a continuum from independent living through full nursing care. The search to find the “best” or “right” facility can be confusing and stressful. The challenges are compounded when a sudden health issue requires a quick decision. Not all long-term care facilities are created equal, and you want your loved one to have the best care possible. Here are some things to consider and some resources available here in North Carolina to help you make your decision: North Carolina adult care facilities are licensed and inspected by the state. There is a star rating system based on the annual inspection results. You may search by county, city or facility name. This is a good place to start but should not be the only factor in your decision. The search page is located at http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/acls/star/search.asp. Look at Medicaid’s nursing home comparison tool located at http://medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. You can choose up to three facilities to compare. Tour the facility at least once, preferably more than once and at different times of the day and different days of the week. Look, listen and smell as you go through the...
Women Invited to Elder Care Toolbox Seminar

Women Invited to Elder Care Toolbox Seminar

Greensboro, NC – Brinkley Walser Stoner attorney David Inabinett will present the Elder Care Toolbox on March 31, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon at the Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro. The free event will offer end-of-life planning tips and answer questions about recommended estate planning documents. “We hear people talk about the ‘sandwich’ generation, meaning adults who are caring for their children at the same time they are caring for a parent or older loved one,” says Inabinett. “While talking about end of life topics can be uncomfortable, it’s much easier on everyone involved if the planning is done before a crisis comes up. I recommend all families talk about end of life decisions and have important legal paperwork in place, including a Will and Health Care Power of Attorney, before they are needed.” Inabinett has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America and received an AV™ Preeminent Peer Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. He has published numerous articles on elder law and estate planning topics and frequently speaks to groups in Guilford, Davidson and surrounding counties. The Women’s Resource Center is located at 628 Summit Avenue in Greensboro. The session is open to all women 18 years of age and older. Topics to be discussed include: Wills, Power of Attorney, HIPPA Releases, Living Trusts, Asset Management, Probate Avoidance, Medicaid Spend Down, Asset Protection, and much more. To register for this free session, please call (336) 275-6090 or email marti@womenscentergso.org. Brinkley Walser Stoner prides itself on providing new and cutting edge legal counsel built on a foundation of knowledge and integrity. Brinkley Walser Stoner’s attorneys are first and foremost...
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft and Scams

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft and Scams

It seems every week we hear about another data breach or scam impacting consumers. From huge data breaches (Home Depot, TurboTax) to phone or email scams targeting seniors or specific groups, everyone needs to be aware of potential issues. While it’s not possible to avoid all the risks associated with identity theft and scams, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself. You are entitled to request a free copy of your credit report annually. Do this and review the report carefully to ensure it is accurate. If you are impacted by a large-scale data breach, sign up for the free credit monitoring services offered by the company. These services are generally offered for one year after the data breach. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card information, or other personal data over the phone if someone has called you and their identity is not confirmed. If you are not sure who is really calling, look up the main number for the business yourself and ask to be connected to the appropriate party. The IRS will never call you on the phone asking for personal information or for you to make a payment over the phone. If you receive such a call, hang up. Shred all personal documents using a cross-shredder before you discard them. Many communities have shred events sponsored by the police department where you can watch the documents while they are destroyed. If someone emails, calls or shows up at your door selling products or services, be skeptical of the offer. Don’t agree to anything before checking the company out through the...
Support Your Parents or Go To Jail?

Support Your Parents or Go To Jail?

A recent Pennsylvania case is shedding light on a trend taking hold in a few states regarding an adult child’s responsibility to support their parents. In Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania found an adult child liable for $92,943.41 of a parent’s medical treatment. Currently 30 states have laws regarding filial responsibility which create a statutory duty for an adult child to support parents who cannot provide for themselves. Various states impose both criminal and civil penalties for failure to support ones parents. North Carolina does have filial responsibility laws on the books. They may not gather much attention, but North Carolina General Statute 14-326.1 states: “ If any person being of full age, and having sufficient income after reasonably providing for his or her own immediate family shall, without reasonable cause, neglect to maintain and support his or her parent or parents, if such parent or parents be sick or not able to work and have not sufficient means or ability to maintain or support themselves, such person shall be deemed guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor; upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If there be more than one person bound under the provisions of the next preceding paragraph to support the same parent or parents, they shall share equitably in the discharge of such duty.” What does this mean to the average person? Basically, you could face criminal charges in North Carolina for failure to support your parents. If one or both parents are sick or unable...
Medicare vs. Medicaid and the Medicaid Application Process

Medicare vs. Medicaid and the Medicaid Application Process

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney Due to similar sounding names, many people are uncertain about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, particularly as it pertains to long term nursing care benefits. The Medicare program is an insurance program, which like most private insurers, covers health services like doctor’s visits, trips to the hospitals, and through its Part D program, prescription benefits. Medicare will only pay for a stay in a long term care facility if certain conditions are met: 1) You are admitted to a hospital for a “qualifying stay” of at least 3 days, and 2) You are discharged to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitative services. Even in these circumstances, Medicare will only pay the costs of this kind of care for 20 days and then imposes a coinsurance amount of around $152 per day for days 21 through 100. After 100 days during a benefit period, Medicare will no longer pay for skilled nursing care services. By contrast, Medicaid is an assistance based program which has a long term care benefit to individuals needing skilled nursing care. Its rules provide that an individual needing skilled nursing care can qualify for assistance if that person has less than $2,000 in “countable resources.” In addition, Medicaid will look to see what assets the spouse of a Medicaid applicant has in his/her name to determine eligibility for the applicant. Unfortunately for many people, the rules for what is or is not considered a countable resource, or strategies for converting countable resources into non-countable ones, are not explained to them in the Medicaid application process. When a Medicaid application is filed...