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Asset Preservation Planning: Don’t Try This by Yourself

The worst legal mistakes I have seen (and successfully fixed) result from clients listening to their neighbors’ or friends’ Medicaid and estate planning advice.

This includes both lay people and advice from some professionals as well, even attorneys and accountants.

There have been a multitude of changes to Medicaid law on the federal and state levels. This area of practice is filled with landmines. With confusion comes fear. With fear people may make hasty decisions without first seeking qualified advice.

A transfer of assets or a decision made without proper legal advice can cost clients thousands of dollars as well as a delay in qualifying for government benefits (there is a 5-year look-back period). Our clients have the benefit of consulting with me, a board certified elder law specialist. A plan to preserve assets must be carefully tailored to the needs and circumstances of each individual client of any age.

Consider these reasons why you, your friends and family deserve to benefit from our specialized knowledge:

  1. Transferring The Homestead: STOP! It is an exempt resource so there is no need to transfer it to a child or, anyone else. There may be a need to have the homestead avoid probate. As a probate attorney we can help you to avoid probate and qualify for Medicaid benefits.
  2. Annuities: Using annuities to preserve assets may not be as advantageous as it once was due to recent changes in the law. If a client does not have a spouse or a disabled child, the State of Florida must be designated the first beneficiary on the policy. There is no guarantee that the family will receive any assets. This option has limited benefits that we explore with our clients.
  3. Rewarding the Caregiver Child: An adult child who cares for an aging parent can be compensated for their services within reasonable limits. We carefully structure the transaction so that assets are preserved and the elder qualifies for Medicaid benefits.
  4. Transferring Income: Social Security benefits cannot be transferred. Some pensions can be transferred to a spouse. Certain situations are appropriate to obtain a qualified domestic relations order transferring an ill spouse’s pension to the healthy spouse.

We counsel same sex couples and domestic partners who have unique needs involving estate and asset preservation planning to work within the current legal framework.