Today, the average lifespan for Americans has increased dramatically, due in large part to medical advances. Although this is a positive development, the challenges of aging — declining health, living on a fixed income, and paying for medical care, prescription medications, and assistive devices — are daunting. At some point, many elderly individuals may need to consider entering a nursing home or assisted living facility, the cost of which is exorbitant. The best way to plan for long-term care is to consult an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney.
Hegwood Law Group provides comprehensive estate planning and elder law services to individuals and families throughout the state of Texas. We are committed to providing our clients with dedicated advocacy, trusted advice, and the finest legal representation. Knowing that the cost of care in a skilled living facility can easily deplete one’s assets, we provide innovative solutions for long-term care planning, including qualifying for public benefits such as Medicaid. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing your well-being and legacy will be protected.
The Informed Choice in Medicaid Planning
At Hegwood Law Group, we will work to ensure that your needs and goals are met both efficiently and effectively. We can address a wide range of Elder Law concerns, such as:
- Advanced medical directives (health care proxies, living wills)
- Long-term care planning
- Finding the right nursing home/assisted living facility
- Medicaid eligibility
- Special needs trusts
- Asset protection planning
We believe that every life has value and that the most vulnerable members of society deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our elder law attorneys will work to protect your legal rights so that you will be comfortable in your golden years.
Options for Long-Term Care
Elderly individuals and their loved ones must consider the significant expenses of long-term care for both medical and non-medical needs. A common misconception is that Medicare will cover the cost of skilled care at a nursing home, however, the federal program only covers limited services on a short-term basis. In addition, some individuals require home health care aides to assist with daily tasks, dressing, feeding, and bathing, which are also not covered by Medicare. Because the costs of such care can easily deplete an elder person’s assets, we take a holistic approach to long-term care planning by considering all your options. This includes:
Long-term Care Insurance
Provides coverage for personal and custodial care at home or in a nursing facility. However, such insurance is not a cure-all because individuals with pre-existing conditions may not be eligible, premiums are expensive, policies have high deductibles and the services covered varies from insurer to insurer. It is important to work with an experienced elder law attorney so that you obtain a long-term care insurance policy that is affordable and best suits your needs.
Planning for Incapacity
Our elder law practice is also dedicated to ensuring the needs of our clients are met if/when they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions about their finances and healthcare. Our attorneys draw up statutory durable powers of attorney and advance medical directives, including medical power of attorneys and living wills.
Despite being the largest payer of nursing home care in the country, Medicaid in only designed to provide medical assistance to low-income individuals and those who are 65 or older. While many elderly individuals have income and assets that exceed the eligibility threshold for Medicaid, one way to obtain such benefits is by taking advantage of irrevocable trusts.
For Texans who do not meet the income requirement, one alternative is to establish a qualified income trust, commonly referred to as a Miller Trust or “QIT.” In this arrangement, any income over the threshold is transferred into the trust, which can only be used for certain limited purposes. It is important to note that there is a 5-year “lookback” period for determining Medicaid eligibility. The look back is a set period of time prior to the individual’s application during which the state agency that administers Medicaid reviews all the financial transactions that the applicant has made.
Moreover, a Miller Trust can only be used to hold income, not assets, in which case our legal team can help explore other options, such as creating marital property agreements to transfer property between spouses, or transferring a residence into an enhanced life estate deed, or Lady Bird Deed, to avoid Medicaid estate recovery.
Houston, Texas Medicaid Planning Attorney
Knowing that confronting the issues of aging is never easy, Hegwood Law Group will provide you and your family with trusted advice and objective insights. We are knowledgeable in the eligibility requirements for Medicaid and other public benefits, such as Social Security Disability and Veterans Benefits. Our legal team will work to ensure that all of your future medical needs are properly funded and that your assets are protected.
When you consult us, we will help you make the best decisions, protect all of your legal rights, and most of all, make sure your independence is preserved. If you cannot travel to our offices, we can come to your home or meet at another convenient location. We also work with adult children who are assisting their parents in obtaining government benefits to finance their long-term care.
Above all, we will always put your best interests first, and treat you with the kindness and compassion you and your family deserve. If you or a loved one has concerns about long-term care planning, you are not alone. Please contact our office today to speak with our attorneys.