A friend is facing the prospect of having to consider assisted living for her mother. “Mother” is friendly, enjoys people her age, and although she loves all five of her grandchildren she does not want to live with them. She wants to remain at home but, because of dementia, she needs a “memory care” facility. She finally agreed to other living arrangements after forgetting about a pan of food frying on the stove and nearly burned her house down.
Addressing these issues before there is an immediate need for assisted living is preferable because an elder law attorney can work with you to qualify for Medicaid without losing much of what you own. To qualify for Medicaid you must have no more than $1,500 in assets. What you have, after considering exempt assets and other factors, must be “spent down.” Taking this journey without an attorney is, in this attorney’s opinion, a poor decision. Many people who decide to apply for Medicaid sell their home, mistakenly believing it will be taken–it is typically an exempt asset. Unfortunately, then, the proceeds from the sale of the home (an asset that was previously exempt) are then a countable asset which will increase the amount you must spend down.
Takeaway: if a loved one will be entering a nursing home or assisted living facility, and will need to apply for Medicaid, consult with an elder law attorney. The money you pay for the attorney’s counsel will likely not come close to the money and assets you will protect if applying for Medicaid.