Medical Assistance is Minnesota’s public health care program that provides necessary medical services for the elderly and disabled. Medical Assistance provides payment for nursing home and other long-term care services when you are unable to do so yourself. In order to be eligible for Medical Assistance you must be a Minnesota resident and a United States Citizen or have the proper immigration status. You must also be 65 or older, blind or disabled, and meet certain income and asset requirements. Medical Assistance rules are extremely complex and change often. Understanding your options and planning for long-term care can help you protect your assets. Whether you’re in the initial planning stages or need help completing the Medical Assistance application and facilitating a spenddown, our attorneys are here to help.
Asset protection planning is an important component to every estate plan but even more crucial in the context of Medical Assistance Planning. Asset protection planning consists of pre-crisis and in-crisis planning in relation to long-term care. Whether you’re faced with a medical emergency or you want to plan ahead, there are strategies to protect your assets form every situation. To qualify for medical assistance, you must spend your assets down to $3,000 if you are an individual or $6,000 if you are a couple. There are special rules and regulations on how to do a proper spend-down, as well as how assets are divided between spouses when only one needs care. Spending your assets down while also trying to protect them is an extremely delicate task. Consulting with an experienced elder law attorney before a crisis occurs will help you understand how medical assistance will affect you, and how you can maximize the protection of your assets.
Elder abuse can range form neglect, physical or psychological maltreatment, or financial abuse. Financial abuse by family members and friends is one of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse. Suddenly transferring assets, changing beneficiary designations, or modifying estate planning documents can be a red flag an elder adult is being taken advantage of. Timely planning can significantly reduce the risk of elder abuse. Legal remedies are available through courts and action can be taken to prevent and protect elderly adults from abuse.
Mental competency refers to one’s legal ability to understand, evaluate, and make rational decisions. Just because an individual cannot take care of their affairs does not necessarily mean they are incompetent. Pre-planning for incompetency is extremely important. Whether you or a loved one are unable to manage your affairs or have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease there are several planning options for you.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a legal document in which you designate and empower someone to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are living that lasts through incompetency. A durable power of attorney typically includes broad powers, including to pay bills, sell or mortgage real estate, and make investment decisions. The person designated is known as the attorney-in-fact. Ensuring you have a current power of attorney in place and that it is durable can help ensure that your family is able to help you if you are ever not able to handle your own finances.
Health Care Directive
A health care directive is a legal document in which you designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can no longer speak for yourself or no longer have capacity to make medical decisions. A health care directive is also known as a living will or advance care directive. The person named to act on your behalf is known as a health care agent or health care proxy. A health care directive can also include your wishes regarding medical care and thoughts about quality of life, health care and finances, specific medical procedures, as well as organ/tissue donation and religious or spiritual beliefs.
Joint Bank Accounts/Co-Signers
Adding a child, relative, or friend to your bank account as a joint owner or co-signer is another planning option in the event you become disabled or incompetent. However, this approach should be thoroughly thought out prior to action as there are numerous risks to giving someone access to your bank account. Appointing someone as your attorney-in-fact is a much better approach.
A guardian is someone who is appointed by the court to make legal decisions for someone who is unable to make decisions on their own. A conservator is someone appointed by the court to make financial decisions for someone who does not have the capacity to do so on their own. In order to become someone’s guardian or conservator you must first petition the court. Once you have petitioned the court, a legal action is started to determine whether or not guardianship/conservatorship is necessary, and to formerly appoint the guardian/conservator. Guardianship and conservatorships are not always the most appropriate option. It is important to consult with attorney about less restrictive options, and whether a guardianship/conservatorship is right for your family.
Elder law issues are tough. When you have questions and need answers, our attorneys are here to help.
Our attorneys are also experienced in estate planning, probate, real estate, farm law, and business law, allowing us to provide the unique guidance needed for the protection assets of individuals with an interest in small businesses, farm land and equipment, and commercial real estate.
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