In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses his tips for choosing the right nursing home for a loved one.
Today I want to talk about some Medicaid basics, essentially what an applicant is allowed to keep. I need to start with a few important caveats. First, these (what I’m going to talk about) refer to a single or a widowed person. There are some differences in what a married couple can keep because they allow assets to the non-applicant spouse. Second, this is just basics and throughout this discussion I’m going to refer you to videos that we have that will go more particularly into each of the items we talk about. The third thing is please don’t think that this is the best you can do. You can do much better with planning that we can assist you with. So let’s go on to what you can keep.
First, the most basic one is the residence, but I call that the “fools gold” exemption because it’s a temporary exemption. It’s only exempt while you own it during your lifetime so they’ll come after it later. So that’s something you definitely need to do planning for. A vehicle, perhaps of limited value, again see our separate video on vehicles. Household goods, furniture, furnishings, clothing, and personal effects – Again, within a standard of reasonableness. So, wedding ring and costume jewelry for example, but not go out and buy a bunch of bling to become eligible. A prepaid funeral and burial and a burial space, as long as those are a done deal. The contract provide for them has to be something called irrevocable. Again, we have a separate video on that. And maybe life insurance, depending on how it’s setup and depending on whether it’s Illinois or Missouri, but only in a very small amount.
Those are the basic exempt assets, and then you get to keep a little bit of non-exempt assets. In government doublespeak that’s anything that isn’t exempt. In Illinois you only get to keep $2000 worth of non-exempt assets. Most people prefer to keep it as money in a checking account. In Missouri as I record this, it’s $4000. It will go up to $5000 on July 1, 2020 and then be indexed to inflation.
Quick answer is: A few things you can keep, not a whole lot. If you’re within those limitations, you’re ok. If you are not, then you’re wise to come see me and we’ll do some planning to get you a better result.
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.