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Good and Full Advice is a Must

Good and Full Advice is a Must

A family recently called with a problem that could have been avoided. The husband was in a nursing home on Medicaid (Title 19) and his wife was living at home with the assets she was allowed to keep. The nursing home had steered them to a  company to do the paperwork for the Medicaid application. They did not seek legal advice from an elder law attorney who would have advised them on what other steps needed to be done, such as the wife doing a new will. She did not do a new will, and her old one left everything to her husband. The house, and her life savings went to him. Since he is on Title 19, the State of Connecticut has a legitimate claim against everything that went to him. This is a terrible result that did not have to happen.

This is a classic example of why getting good and full advice from a knowledgeable elder law attorney would have avoided the loss of a family’s life savings. Federal law allows spouses of Medicaid recipients to do special wills with trusts inside them, called testamentary trust wills, because the trust is part of the last will and testament. These do not protect one hundred percent of the assets, but do save a substantial portion. One example is a couple with several hundred thousands of dollars. They were both already in a nursing home, but the husband had severe cancer and was going to pass away soon. He had the mental capacity to do the special will, and all the assets were put in his name. He died a few months later and every penny of the several hundreds of thousands of dollars was saved. The estate was required to pay one third of the income to reimburse the state, but all the money, plus two thirds of the income was saved for the family. And the wife lived several more years in the nursing home. All because they sought and received good and full advice.

A company that files applications is not giving legal advice on all the laws and regulations that Congress and the Sate of Connecticut have passed to protect families. And if you ask why you were not told about laws that protect assets, they will respond that they don’t give legal advice. And that is true. As with many things in life, it’s what you don’t know that will hurt you. Those who plan early and get that critical legal advice will be prepared to weather the storm and the expense of long term care far better than someone who is suddenly thrown into expensive long term care. And even if prior planning wasn’t done, last minute planning is far better than none. The example of the husband that did his special testamentary will, knowing he only had months to live, is proof of that. So, if your family is suddenly faced with nursing home costs that can easily exceed $16,000 per month, seek an experienced elder law attorney whose duty is to you alone, and who will advise on all the laws and rules that apply, and who knows all legal steps and documents you need to get qualified, and also to protect your life’s savings to the full extent allowed by law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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