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Spotlight on Medicaid: a fundamentally important point to note

Obviously, there is a veritable basket of concerns related to the long-term health care needs of a California family in a given case.

Will a loved one need to go to a nursing home for what will likely be a lengthy period? If so, is the day of admittance fast approaching or, alternatively, is there some time available in advance for planning and preparations?

And, of course, funding considerations loom paramount for many families concerning long-term health care, to wit: How can such care be financed? Will regulators require that an individual or family largely deplete all assets to pay for facility costs?

These are key estate planning considerations, and they apply to a high number of families in California and nationally.

Often, the term Medicaid is centrally implicated in discussions surrounding long-term care. A recent Forbes focus upon that government program specifically spotlights what its writer terms "one of the most misunderstood aspects of Medicaid."

That is this: the so-called "look back" period that regulatory officials (in California, state officials working for the state version of Medicaid called Medi-Cal) zero in on when evaluating program eligibility.

The point is this: Given that Medicare/Medi-Cal is what Forbes calls "a form of social welfare," program overseers want to ensure that applicants aren't abusing the process.

Thus, they look back at an applicant's finances and economic activity for a five-year period prior to a Med-Cal application. Certain asset transfers occurring within that period might be viewed as being completely legitimate, whereas others might raise regulatory eyebrows for their perceived attempt to avoid paying money that rightfully should have been applied to long-term care. In the latter case, gifts and transfers might be subject to penalties.

That can make for a complex stew and materially up the angst for any family trying to plan for an upcoming likelihood of Medicaid assistance for a loved one.

A proven estate administration attorney well versed in Medicaid rules and processes can answer questions and help a client make smart moves in planning sufficiently in advance of regulatory determinations.

Medicaid is an unquestionably complex program, with exacting requirements. Timely and candid discussion with an experienced attorney can help ensure that an individual or family takes steps that can help save money while simultaneously safeguarding the right to receive future care if it is needed.

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