Medicaid is a need-based health care program. It is a federal program that is administered on a state level. Elderly persons needing long-term care often try to utilize Medicaid to assist with the expenses. Appropriate estate planning can assist in this regard. Since Medicaid is for low-income individuals, there are limits on the amount of income and assets a party can have. An individual should plan ahead to make sure any countable assets and income are structured so as not to affect any future applications for Medicaid. Medicaid can look back five years from the date of an application so it is important to do any relevant estate planning well in advance.
Certain assets are not countable in terms of eligibility for Medicaid. One of the big exemptions is your home. Current federal law allows one residence to be exempt with a cap of $560,000 for the total equity of the home. Even if the home is above that amount of equity, it may still be exempt if a spouse, child under 18 or permanently disabled child is still residing in the home. A party seeking Medicaid cannot have more than $2,000 per month income. There are additional rules as far as assets your spouse can keep under the anti-impoverishment provision. It is important to plan for the potential of long term care well before the need for it arises to protect your assets.