A common question which we encounter in our Florida estate and probate practice is whether a person's estate will owe any money to Medicaid upon the person's death. Usually the reason for their question is that the person has received Medicaid benefits prior to their death. Many times, those benefits were as a result of Medicaid paying for the deceased person's long term care in their final years.
As is commonly known, Medicaid is a federal program which provides healthcare benefits to certain persons with low income. The program is administered at the state level. Section 1917 of the Federal Social Security Act (42 USC § 1396(p)), and 42 CFR 433.36, require that States recover medical assistance payments made to, or on behalf of, a Medicaid recipient from the assets in the estate of that deceased recipient.
In the field of elder law in Florida, the CARES program is often discussed. The Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services (CARES) is Florida's federally mandated pre-admission screening program for nursing home applicants.
With the aging of our population and the improved healthcare available, people are living longer. Of those, perhaps a large percentage will eventually need nursing home care. This will present a major financial burden to many families. Elder law planning is essential. So how does nursing home care get paid?
Clients often approach us as elder law attorneys explaining that their elderly loved-one needs to go into a nursing home. Because of the prohibitive expense of such care, they want governmental assistance to pay for the care. Specifically, they want to qualify for the Managed Care Long-Term Care Program offered through Medicaid.
As our population ages, providing long-term care becomes increasingly important. Long-term care can include everything from in-home assistance, assisted living facilities (ALF) and nursing home care. In particular, how to pay for long-term care can overwhelm both the elderly and their loved ones. Thinking about this issue should be considered in any estate planning process involving an elderly person.
A Special Needs Trust is an irrevocable trust that is set up to provide for certain needs of a disabled person. The trust may supplement the person's needs but may not duplicate those needs provided by governmental disability programs such as SSI and Medicaid.