Medicaid Planning Attorney in Montana

Though Medicaid is a program designed to make healthcare more accessible to families who would not be able to afford it otherwise, applying for the program can be complex. The application involves a lot of work and the review process can take a long time, time that many people cannot afford. The medicaid planning attorneys at Jones & Cook approach every client and case with the compassion and attention to detail it deserves. Our goal is to help you address your concerns and help you find the best solutions to your ELDER LAW matter. Call our law office at (406) 543-3800, for a free consultation.

As older Americans prepare for retirement, it’s important to take the time to draw up clear plans that will protect your life savings, home, and other assets in the event of declining health or the need for Long-Term Care after an illness or Injury. Even if you’re healthy and active today, medical emergencies can arise in an instant. You owe it to yourself to be prepared. The advantages of prudent Financial Planning for Medicaid eligibility can save you significant sums of money.

At Jones & Cook, our Missoula Estate Planning and Elder Law attorneys help families develop durable, enforceable fiduciary tools that achieve your goals. We can establish a variety of instruments that protect what you care about most, while ensuring that you have the resources and tools to live well in your golden years. From Trusts and Promissory Notes to Annuities and Caregiver Agreements, we carefully analyze your resources and needs, then develop clear, sound, and ethical strategies to meet your goals.

In addition, we handle the complex application process for Medicaid, ensuring that your planned financial picture meets eligibility requirements and that you’re prepared in the event of a crisis. Whether you are already retired, planning to do so, or are looking to the future for parents or grandparents whose health is a concern, our experienced Montana Medicaid Planning attorneys can help you protect yourself, your estate, and your loved ones from all contingencies.

We Can Help You Obtain the Benefits You Need

Medicaid and Long-Term Care

The importance of planning for Medicaid while you are still in good health cannot be overstated. It takes time to assess your financial situation and determine the best ways to reorganize your assets to qualify for Medicaid. Additionally, the eligibility requirements for Medicaid are strict, accessing these benefits requires careful planning. At Jones & Cook we understand the value of your life’s work, and can help you create the financial instruments required to have the healthcare options you need, while protecting the things that are most important to you. Our legal team will assist you in finding a solution that fits your needs.

Montana Medicaid Eligibility

Medicaid is a state/federal program that pays most nursing home costs for people who meet three eligibility requirements including aged or disabled need, medical need, and financial need. In determining the financial need of a Medicaid applicant, Montana’s financial criteria is based on both income and asset levels.There are certain assets that are exempt from consideration and can be kept when applying for Medicaid. These include:

Personal residence ($560,000 maximum equity)
Automobile
Whole life insurance with a cash surrender value of less than $1,500
Prepaid funeral plans
Household furnishings
Certain Medicaid Compliant Annuities & Promissory Notes

To be eligible for Medicaid in Montana, you must be considered medically needy by the Department of Health and Human Services and reside in a Medicaid qualifying nursing home or an Assisted Living Facility which participates in the Medicaid Waiver Program. You must have an income than the cost of the nursing home’s monthly fee and assets of less than $2,000. As a married couple living in a nursing home, you are allowed to have $3,000 in assets. If your spouse is already living in a nursing home, your spouse is allowed to have $2,000 in assets and you are allowed to have a maximum of $120,900 in assets.

Creating Medicaid Solutions in Montana and North Dakota

An experienced Jones & Cook Medicaid planning attorney can provide the details and implications of the Medicaid rules. We have decades of experience in protecting your assets, and we can advise you as you plan for your future and your particular situation. Our attorneys can prepare and submit your Medicaid application and represent you before the local Medicaid agency. You can approach the application process confidently, knowing that you have the best available information, preparation and support from our team. For advice planning for the possibility of nursing home care in the future or help seeing your way through an immediate Medicaid eligibility crisis, call (406) 543-3800 for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Medicaid is a healthcare program that is predominantly funded by the United States federal government; however, the individual states have the option to supplement funding for the program. Although it is primarily funded by the federal government, Medicaid is administered by the individual states, meaning the eligibility guidelines and benefits offered will differ somewhat from one state to another. Medicaid for seniors will also cover long-term care expenses as well as community based programs that are aimed at allowing seniors to remain in their homes longer instead of going into a long-term care facility.

Medicaid, the jointly run state and federal health insurance program, is something you can use to help pay for long-term care costs. However, Medicaid is only available to those who meet the stringent eligibility criteria. Through Medicaid planning you evaluate where you are now and what you will need to do to be able to use Medicaid to pay for long-term care.

Nursing homes cost anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 a month. If you fail to handle your Medicaid application properly, you will either not receive Medicaid benefits at all or will receive those benefits later than you should have received the benefits. Assuming you miss eligibility for even three months, you will owe the nursing home $30,000 to $36,000. Nursing homes are getting extremely aggressive when this occurs and will, in many instances, end up suing you and your family members to pay the bill you now owe them.

This is one of the most commonly held myths about Medicaid and Medicare. While Medicare will pay for some brief stays in long-term care facilities when they are associated with recovering from hospital procedures, it won’t pay for other long-term care stays.

This is also a widely held misperception. While giving away property to others will allow you to, eventually, qualify for Medicaid, it won’t happen immediately. When measuring your eligibility criteria, Medicaid officials will look over your assets for the past five years. If during that time you had more assets than the eligibility level allows, you won’t be able to qualify until the five-year period has passed.

People often get Medicaid and Medicare confused, or use the two words interchangeably, though they are not the same program. Both Medicaid and Medicare are healthcare programs funded by the federal government; however, the similarities stop there. Medicare is an “entitlement” program, meaning that as long as you paid into the Medicare system during your working years, you will automatically be entitled to participate in the program when you reach retirement age, without regard to your income or assets. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a “needs based” program, meaning you must demonstrate a need for the benefits.

If your countable resources exceed the limit when you apply for Medicaid, the program will impose a waiting period during which time you will be expected to “spend-down” your assets. Basically, this means you will be expected to sell your non-exempt assets and rely on the profits to cover your long-term care costs. When your assets drop below the $2,000 limit, Medicaid will start helping with your long-term care expenses.

Given the Medicaid spend-down requirements, you may be concerned that a community spouse will be left with no resources if you need to qualify for Medicaid. Fortunately, that is not the case thanks to the Medicaid spousal impoverishment rules. The spousal impoverishment rules allow a community spouse to keep some income and assets when the other spouse goes into long-term care.