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Pre-Planning Medicaid Attorneys in Berks County, PA

People who need the assistance of Medicaid—especially the elderly who need nursing home care or other services for their senior years—will face issues of how much income or assets they can have and still qualify for Medicaid. The rules vary depending on whether you’re single, married with one spouse applying, or married with both spouses applying. Though the program sets limits on income and assets that can seem too restrictive, there are legitimate programs to qualify for while shielding what you’ve worked for and accumulated throughout your working life. 

If you or a loved one needs Medicaid assistance in or around Reading, Pennsylvania, contact the attorneys at Curran Estate and Elder Law, PLLC. We are knowledgeable and experienced in Medicaid rules and regulations and can help you plan for the day you may need senior care. We’re here to assist you through proper asset and income management strategies. 

Curran Estate and Elder Law, PLLC proudly serves clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Berks County and the neighboring counties of Schuylkill, Montgomery, Lancaster, Chester, and Lebanon.

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Qualifying for Medicaid 

Medicaid is a jointly operated federal and state program that provides health care and living assistance for low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It’s administered by both the federal and the state government where you live. If you are disabled and have a low income and few assets, qualifying can be fairly straightforward. For those who have worked until their elder years and may need the services of a nursing home or other assistance with living at home, qualifying may present a somewhat bigger challenge. 

In Pennsylvania, when it comes to elder assistance, the qualifying standards vary on your status—single, married but filing individually, or married and filing jointly. If you are single or married and applying singly, the income level is $2,523 a month from any source, including Social Security and other retirement funds. If you are married and need services for both spouses, the income limit doubles to $5,046. 

Any applicant, whether single or married, cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, though one’s home is exempted, as are household goods and furnishings, and one vehicle. A non-applicant spouse can have assets up to $137,400.  

The income and asset standards apply at any age when it comes to applying for Medicaid, but they come into sharper focus for those who have worked until retirement and may need the services of a nursing home or other assistance that they cannot otherwise afford. 

Medicaid Basics: The Look Back & the Look Ahead 

Medicaid is designed as “the payer of last resort,” so when it comes to qualifying, the plan’s administrators will look back over your previous five years of financial transactions. If they determine that you’re given away assets in order to qualify for Medicaid, they can deny your application until five years have passed since the last transfer. 

Though one’s home is generally exempted from the Medicaid asset threshold up to a certain equity limit, when the Medicaid recipient passes away, the government can come after the equity in their home to pay back what the program has provided in benefits.  

Therefore, during the five-year look-back period, you cannot gift your home to someone else unless the transfer is made to a spouse, a child under the age of 21, a child of any age who is blind or totally disabled, a sibling who has an equity interest in the home, or a child who resided in the home and provided assistance to you for two years so you could avoid needing nursing-home placement. 

In other words, if you know or sense that you’re going to need Medicaid assistance, you need to plan ahead. Reach out to a skilled estate planning attorney for guidance. 

Pre-Planning for Medicaid 

You can transfer certain assets within the five years prior to your needing the assistance of Medicaid, but that requires careful planning. To prevent the Medicaid program from using your assets to disqualify you, or later seizing your assets to repay for the services provided, you can place your assets in what is called a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT). However, the transfer into the trust must be made five years before applying for Medicaid. 

There are also ways to protect income from disqualifying you by creating a Qualified Income Trust, also known as a Miller Trust. Pooled Income Trusts are offered by nonprofit organizations and are similar to Miller Trusts. Money that goes into either of these trusts is not considered income for Medicaid qualification purposes. 

The most essential point is that you need to plan for every contingency in your life. If you retire and suddenly need living and health care assistance beyond what Medicare provides, or what you can afford, you may be forced to turn to Medicaid. When you do, you will come face to face with the realities of the asset and income thresholds established by the program.

medicaid pre planning

Medicaid Planning Attorneys Serving Reading, Pennsylvania

Elderly individuals who suddenly need Medicaid to pay for nursing home or in-home assistance are not the only ones who may need asset and income protection strategies. If you have a child who is blind or disabled and needs long-term care, you also will need to do some comprehensive asset and income protection planning. If you foresee the eventual need for Medicaid for you or a loved one in Pennsylvania, reach out to Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC for a consultation. We can help you move forward.

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Client Success Stories

Very helpful. Staff genuinely cared about our needs.
Dan Clouser
October 26, 2022.
A delight to work with. Curran Estate Services are truly in the business of helping people!
Julie Krasley
September 29, 2022.
Very thorough. Friendly, compassionate, knowledgeable staff.
Ron Hirneisen
August 31, 2022.
5 Stars is not enough! If I could, I would give Curran Estate & Elder Law a 10-star review … and here is why: • They listen to you and your situation. The first question Sean asked me was, “How about we begin with you telling us about your family and the need for our services?” I had come to them as a caregiver for a spouse with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Both of us were in need of Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney, Last Will & Testaments, and Living Wills. • They really do care about you and your family. The February day we were to meet with Sean to have the legal documents signed, a snowstorm began. Rather than have my homebound spouse go out in the weather, Sean, Lois, and Susan came to our home. The Curran Estate & Elder Law team takes a genuine interest in you. As we were going through the process of selecting persons to be our Powers-of-Attorney, the Curran Team wanted to know about each person we chose. • They know what they are doing. Sean and the Life Care Team reviewed our particular situation and made recommendations based upon our needs. They do not have a “one size fits all” approach to their work. • They communicate very well and explain things thoroughly. Each staff member is very good at explaining what each legal document means. • They completed the necessary work in a timely manner. In a surprisingly brief amount of time, we were notified that all the legal documents were complete and could be reviewed at our convenience. The Life Care Plan offers the expert services of the law firm plus a compassionate Elder Care Coordinator. I have leaned on the Elder Care Coordinator for helpful guidance and suggestions. I have received an immense amount of help from the Elder Care Coordinator when placing my loved one in various skilled nursing and memory care facilities. I am relieved in knowing I have the Elder Care Coordinator as a trustworthy guide through these days. For the last 18 months, by utilizing the services of Sean Curran and the Life Care Program Team, I have found relief and peace of mind in knowing that my loved one will be taken care of for the balance of her life. With gratitude, Rev. Paul L. Jones
Bahia Paw
July 20, 2022.
Fantastic top-notch law firm . They do professional and thorough work. They have fantastic and helpful work ethic. Great personalities and thoughtful. Our family feels protected and satisfied with the work Curran Law does. Thank you all.
james walker
May 31, 2022.
The entire Curran Estate and Elder Law team is fabulous! They are so kind, caring and patient. Not like your typical lawyers. Highly recommend them to help navigate the complex elder law and Medicare system.
Nancy Panza
May 10, 2022.
Suffering the loss of a loved one and having to deal with the probate process can be overwhelming. Gina was very professional and compassionate while helpng me through the process. What was becoming a nightmare for me was completely and quickly resolved. Everyone I came in contact with in the office was very kind and helpful.
Joanne Malys
May 5, 2021.
Sean deserves 10 stars ! But I can only give him 5 stars! He is caring & honest.. I am from out of state, and I needed help with elder care law concerning a family member. Sean returned all my phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. His prices were reasonable. I'd recommend Curran Estate & Elder Law to anyone who needs elder law services!
Ed K
March 18, 2021.
Extremely compassionate, knowledgeable and understanding during an extremely stressful, life changing event. Thank you for your patience and support.
March 8, 2020.
Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC

1212 Liggett Ave.
Reading, PA 19611

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