In January, 2009, the Maryland Medical Assistance program revised it’s income and asset thresholds. For 2009, the maximum spousal resource allowance is $109,560, and the minimum allowance is $21,912. Remember, however, that the spouse whose partner is in a nursing home may not be able to retain the maximum resource allowance depending on how much money the couple had when one of them entered the nursing home. To see how one might take action to ensure that the spouse at home can keep the maximum, you can read the article I have written on the subject by clicking -HERE-.
Ever since the implementation of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (“DRA 2005”) elder law advisors have been informing clients that Medicaid asset preservation planning using gifts to family members has become more complex. While many people believe that DRA 2005 was the death knell for such planning, in fact one may still preserve assets using a gift giving strategy.
The open enrollment period to make changes to your Medicare coverage, or to add coverage such as the so-called Medicare Part D drug coverage ends December 31, 2008. Now is the time to act if you desire to make changes to your coverage.
I strive to push the evolution of Medicaid asset preservation techniques. One example of this is the following recent exchange on the Maryland Bar Association Elder Law Section’s list serv, an online discussion forum for Maryland lawyers who practice elder law.
In the current turbulent economic climate people are finding that the values of their assets from their homes to their investment portfolios to their retirement accounts are declining substantially. Such decline of value has implications for those who are seeking to engage in Medicaid asset preservation planning.
Many people are in the habit of visiting their doctors for an annual physical or other regular check-up. Still more visit their accountants each year to assist them with their income taxes. And most people regularly visit their auto mechanics to change the oil in their cars every three months or so.
The practice with lawyers is different, however, and people may put themselves in peril if they do not periodically review their affairs with their attorney.
William M. Gatesman has joined the law firm of Michael G. Day & Associates, which firm serves clients in western Maryland. Mr. Gatesman will continue to serve clients in other parts of Maryland and in the District of Columbia through the Gatesman Law Office.
A technical Article for Maryland Elder Law Practitioners
Soon after the opinion was issued, this writer posted an article discussing the case, Schoukroun v. Karsenty (Md. App. December 11, 2007), which article you may access by clicking on the case name in this sentence. That article suggests that the court-created augmented estate rule set forth in that opinion might have implications in the Medicaid planning context.
There are other rules that are important for Elder Law Practitioners to bear in mind when considering the implications of Schoukroun.
When people think about using Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, they generally think that the program will pay only after most of their assets are gone. However, there are little known rules that allow people to keep certain substantial assets and still get Medicaid for nursing home care. Some of these rules apply only if there is a spouse living at home, and others apply even if a single person is seeking Medicaid benefits.
This office has recommended, and most estate planners will agree, that one should consider appointing a trusted individual to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. I wrote a comprehensive article on that topic on October 7, 2007.
Maryland law not only allows one to appoint a Health Care Agent, the statute provides forms one may use to do so. While I have always recommended that one seek experienced legal counsel when appointing a Health Care Agent – one of the statutory forms curiously omits a significant provision – such advice is even more compelling in light of a new ruling by Maryland’s Attorney General.