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Can Medicaid-planning help you or your parents?

If you or your parents are past retirement age and have considerable assets, it is time to carefully consider Medicaid planning for the future if you haven't done so already. This is especially relevant if you, your spouse or either of your parents has been diagnosed with a degenerative condition like Alzheimer's disease or if there is a family history of disorders like Parkinson's with known or suspected genetic links.

While your loved one may only have minor symptoms now or has not yet formally been diagnosed, you need to start planning now to protect those you love. The sooner you move to create a thorough plan for securing long-term care and obtaining Medicaid benefits, the better. Act now to best protect your parents' assets and get them the care they need.

There are many misconceptions about Medicaid, Medicare and long-term financial planning. Read on to learn more and find out how you may obtain the assistance you need.

There's a five-year look-back period for Medicaid

Waiting too long to consider the need for long-term care, e.g., assisted living or nursing home, could be a massive financial mistake. Hard-earned assets could end up consumed by the costs associated with the quality care of a person confined to a nursing home. These costs can leave the one still at home financially vulnerable and at risk for any of the numerous issues that come with the loss of assets.

The state considers any amount of income transferred or gifted in the last five years, so early planning is key to success. Creating a living trust that includes major accounts and a home is one way to reduce personal assets without depriving others of a decent standard of living in their golden years.

Know the limits for Medicaid approval when planning

Medicare and many private insurance policies will not cover long-term care. Medicaid, however, will cover this type of care, provided that the one who needs it qualifies for Medicaid coverage. Qualification includes looking at both income and accumulated assets.

For example, if your parents have limited incomes, the assets they hope to use to cover costs of living expenses during their retirement years could end up preventing them from qualifying for Medicaid. This is why careful planning, such as creating a trust, can make a major difference. Your parents should not have to worry about losing their home to ensure one of them has access to long-term care when they need it.

Careful planning for moving assets into a trust well before there's a need for long-term care -- as well as planning for disbursements that won't disqualify your parents from coverage -- can make a major difference in their security and financial solvency in their later years.

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