Top 5 Reasons to Use a Lawyer for MassHealth
Medicaid is called “MassHealth” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While it is a federal program, each state administers it and passes its own administrative rules and regulations to assist in the administration of the federal benefit program. Massachusetts sponsors this medical assistance benefit program for state residents that can be utilized by those aged 65 and older needing long term nursing care. because the cost of nursing care is astronomical. Some estimates put the figure at $90,000 to $120,000 per year, an amount that few of us can afford independently.
Many of us feel that we will be able to live on our own as we age, but no one can predict the onset of dementia or of other age-related conditions that can severely restrict our mobility or lead to a loss of cognitive abilities that impact our independence. Unless you have a strong and committed family support system that can provide for you in your own home or theirs, you may likely need long term care in a nursing facility as you age. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the lifetime probability of becoming disabled in at least 2 activities of daily living or of being cognitively impaired is 68% once you reach the age of 65.
For Massachusetts residents, they may be able to look for help from MassHealth. However, this program has strict guidelines for eligibility. If you do not receive professional advice on how to qualify for this critical program, you may experience significant delays and lose valuable assets that could have been preserved with proper estate planning. For these reasons, it is essential that you consult with and retain an experienced Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney.
If you are still not convinced, here are 5 reasons to use a lawyer for Elder Law and Estate Planning:
- 1. Knowledge and Experience. There are specialists in many areas of our lives that we depend on for our health, finances, and other needs. For example, we rely on trained physicians to take care of our health needs and financial advisers to take care of our investments. If a loved one is in trouble with the law, a skilled defense lawyer is a priority. Similarly, you want an elder law lawyer who has years of experience consulting and planning for elders seeking long-term care benefits. Much of this advice pertains to estate planning on preserving assets for your heirs and how to avoid having them seized or used to pay for nursing home care. There are numerous ways that you can achieve this by planning ahead and by taking the proper steps.
For instance, did you know that MassHealth criteria requires that if you are over 65, your countable assets cannot exceed $2,000, or that as a couple your total assets may not be more than $120,900 as of 2017? Also, MassHealth uses a 5-year look-back period whereby the Commonwealth will review all your financial transactions over this period. If for instance, you sold your house to your adult child or even to a trust for less than market value, you risk losing eligibility of MassHealth. There are, however, other ways to sell your home to reduce your assets without consequence and to convert certain assets you have into exempt ones so that you qualify for MassHealth.
- 2. Personal Advocacy. If concerned about legal fees, some individuals will instead of going to lawyer rely on the nursing home staff to advise them on how to complete a Medicaid application or how they can qualify for Medicaid or MassHealth. While it is your goal to protect and preserve your assets, the nursing home is primarily interested in getting funds for its facility, you may want to consider an Elder Law lawyer whose ethical duty and obligations are to solely look out for your best interests.
- 3. Costs and Legal Fees Considerations. If you rely on a non-legal professional or attorney who does not concentrate in elder law, then you may risk delays in eligibility and loss of assets to pay for care. When you consider that you could lose one or more years of MassHealth benefits from receiving inadequate advice at a cost of over $10,000 per month, then the legal fees you will incur are a bargain. So, you can either pay now and at a reasonable fee with the planning advice and drafting of legal documents you need now, or pay later and possibly lose your home and savings. Also, most elder law lawyers will provide you a low or no-cost initial consultation to determine your needs and what steps can be taken to protect your assets before you decide if you will accept their legal assistance.
- 4. Insurance. If you use a non-professional who gives you the wrong advice, then you have little recourse to being compensated for your damages since this individual may not have professional liability insurance.
- 5. By using the services of a skilled and knowledgeable elder law lawyer, you will have the assurance that you have received the best possible advice. For instance, you may be advised that your eligibility will be delayed or that you are risking loss of valuable assets unless you take certain measures such as creating a trust, gifting, and converting certain assets so as to exempt them and not be considered as part of your estate for MassHealth eligibility purposes.
Meet With Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald
As an estate planning lawyer for the elderly and Elder Law lawyer, Attorney Bloom-McDonald has been representing and advocating for seniors for decades. If you will be requiring nursing home care for yourself or a loved one, or must have financial assistance to acquire help with areas of daily living in your home, call Attorney Bloom-McDonald for the advice and assistance to put you on the right path.