Friday, August 22, 2014

Medicaid Planning: The Basics - How Much Can I Keep and Still Qualify?

Medicaid Planning: The Basics - How Much Can I Keep and Still Qualify?

Home careAs an attorney who aids clients and their families with such issues, I study Medicaid's many and confusing rules and regulations. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you are generally only allowed to keep $2,000 of "countable" assets ($3,000 if a husband and wife are in a Medicaid facility). If you have more than $2,000 you can still qualify for Medicaid if you take account of various exemptions and strategies that are allowed.

"Countable" assets mean all items that you have that are not otherwise exempt. Exempt items in North Carolina include the following: personal property, one car, a prepaid burial contract (or $1,500 set aside for it), burial plots for you and your family, term life insurance, continuing personal care contracts, life estate interests in property (if you live in the property for more than one year), reverse mortgages, some annuities and promissory notes, discretionary interests in special needs trusts, and a your personal residence if your spouse or dependent child resides there or you state an intent to return home and you home equity is less than $525,000. Therefore, countable assets would include everything that is not exempt (i.e. cash, stocks, bonds, and anything else that has a cash value).

In addition to the $2,000 limit, your spouse is allowed to exempt more assets. A spouse in North Carolina is allowed to exempt one-half of otherwise countable assets for a minimum of $23,448 and a maximum of $117,240 (for amounts below $23,448, it is all exempt). So, for example, if you are married and you have $200,000 in a savings account, only $100,000 would be considered countable for Medicaid purposes and the rest would be exempt.

If you have taken into account everything above and you still have more than $2,000 in countable assets, there are still strategies that you can utilize that will still allow you to qualify for Medicaid. One of the services that I provide to clients is implementing these strategies to assist clients to reach their goals.