Elder law is an increasingly important and focused area of the law. While the golden years are supposed to be filled with the joys of retirement, grandchildren and travel, they often include other complexities. To meet these challenges, elder law attorneys have become of greater value to millions of aging Americans and their caregivers. Elder law encompasses a wide range of practice areas with the attorney focusing on the specific legal needs of seniors. Additionally, our Farm Elder Law attorney, Natalie Boocher, can assist with your unique elder law needs as they relate to the operation and passing down of your farm as you grow older and look towards retirement.
The Schwarz Law Office is knowledgeable on the wide array of issues that impact the elderly and can assist you or your loved ones with the following matters:
- Healthcare and disability planning, including living wills and durable powers of attorney
- Estate planning, including planning for the management of one’s estate during life and its disposition on death through the use of trusts, wills, and/or LLC’s
- Long-term care planning
- Selecting the right long-term care facility, including assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care
- Qualifying for public benefits such as Medicaid
- Preservation/transfer of assets seeking to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home
- Retirement, including public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits
- Special needs planning
- Estate and trust administration
- Asset issues that specifically affect farming families
We work diligently to make sure the seniors we represent are protected and continue to enjoy a high quality of life at all stages of life.
ASSET PRESERVATION PLANNING
We provide clients with the tools they need to protect their hard-earned assets from various unforeseeable creditors, including business creditors, divorce, and nursing home costs. These include the use of limited liability companies, irrevocable trusts, counseling as to asset structuring, and assistance restructuring assets to maximize eligibility for Medicaid. Asset preservation planning is a broad concept that encompasses many aspects of the estate planning process, and can include:
- Planning for the expenses of in-home or nursing home care
- LLCs to limit liability exposure for real estate, including farms
- Special needs planning to protect disabled beneficiaries
- Minimizing income, estate and gift taxes
- Various types of trusts to protect young or irresponsible beneficiaries
- Pre-marital agreements
Asset preservation planning can also help you prepare in advance for Medicaid eligibility. It is never too soon to start protecting your assets through a carefully tailored estate plan. Instead of having to spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid, you can pre-plan to protect your assets for the benefit of your loved ones.
The Schwarz Law Office is happy to discuss all of these issues with you as part of our comprehensive estate planning process. You can expect to receive clear, understandable explanations of the law as it applies to your situation, and you can expect personal, responsive service at all times.
MEDICAID PLANNING & APPLICATION SERVICES
Plan Ahead to Qualify for Medicaid
The ability to pay for long term care is a rising concern among aging Americans. We advise clients on available assisted living or skilled nursing options and develop strategies that will enable them to either pay for those options and/or qualify for government benefits, including Medicaid, while preserving assets for their families.
As the costs of long-term care rise, it is becoming impossible for individuals to pay for this care out of their retirement savings. It is estimated that 2/3 of all residents in nursing homes today receive Medicaid assistance to pay for their care. When a spouse is placing their wife or husband into nursing care, the spouse should be aware that special rules may provide for accelerated Medicaid qualification to cover nursing home costs while allocating income and/or resources for the spouse still living at home.
Your Farm Elder Law Attorney can also assist with your specific needs as they relate to your farm operation and the Medicaid eligibility and application process.
What is Medicaid and How Can I Qualify?
Medicaid is a joint program between the state and federal governments. It provides health insurance and nursing home coverage for low-income adults, including those over 65 or who are blind or disabled. To qualify, your income and assets must not exceed certain limits. Although your current income and assets may exclude you from Medicaid eligibility in the future, with proper advance planning, you can:
- Transfer assets to beneficiaries
- Prepay funeral expenses
- Set aside money for your daily expenses
- Qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home and medical care
Depending upon the applicable laws when you seek Medicaid qualification, there are a number of plans and strategies which may be implemented to achieve Medicaid eligibility while preserving assets for future needs. Both eligibility and transfer penalty rules change frequently. If you do not comply with transfer laws, you will be denied Medicaid benefits. With such important matters, you do not want to risk mistakes or inaccuracies. It is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney familiar with current Medicaid rules prior to any Medicaid eligibility planning or gifting.
The Schwarz Law Office can help you:
- Navigate the Medicaid process, getting you the medical and financial assistance that you or your loved one deserves
- Transfer assets to family members without jeopardizing your rights to Medicaid benefits
- Protect your assets for a well spouse or your heirs through proper estate planning
- Draft important documents, such as living wills, powers of attorney and health care directives, that will help to preserve your dignity or that of an aging parent
- Protect your family farm through the use of proper planning and transfer techniques
MEDICAID & THE FAMILY FARM
For many families in Indiana their family farm serves not only as the most valuable asset they have, but as a strong connection to their heritage. The desire to keep this asset within the family is one of the most important estate planning goals. The challenges and expenses of paying for necessary long-term nursing care requires sophisticated planning strategies to ensure the security of this unique asset.
Typical annual expenses for individuals residing in a nursing home can easily exceed $80,000, a high price to pay for a family already going through so many changes. For families that want to protect their family farm from the increasing costs of long-term care, one of the most effective planning strategies is the use of a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
The LLC is created and fully owned by those who will inherit the farm ground. Mom and Dad deed the property to the LLC, while retaining a “life estate” interest. This retained life estate interest means that nothing changes during the life of Mom and Dad, they will continue to receive all the income and pay all the expenses associated with the property. The LLC becomes an operating entity for the farm after both parents have passed away.
After the remainder interest is transferred to the LLC, the current Medicaid rules dictate that a sixty-month period of Medicaid ineligibility will begin. If circumstances change during this period, the LLC can return the farm to Mom and Dad and eliminate any penalty caused by the transfer. After the sixty months have passed, the family farm is exempt from Medicaid Estate Recovery. The children can be sure they will inherit the farm with favorable tax implications upon Mom and Dad’s passing.
The LLC provides several benefits for the family outside of the nursing home protection, including liability protections and buy-out provisions. With the assistance of your Farm Elder Law Attorney at the Schwarz Law Office, Indiana families can rest easy knowing that their family farm can remain within the family for generations to come.#
If you have questions or concerns please contact our Farm Elder Law attorney, Natalie Boocher; she is ready and able to help you tackle these delicate issues.
310 North Chicago Street
PO Box 637
Royal Center, IN 46978
Phone: (574) 643-9999
Fax: (574) 643-9994
511 E. Colfax Ave.
South Bend, Indiana 46617