Elder and Disability Law Planning & Strategies

     Member-National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.                                     www.texaselderlawattorney.com

Richard M. Barron Attorney at Law 209 E. Main St. Whitesboro, Tx. 76273 903-564-3663 or 940-612-3663 [email protected]

July, 2004

THE BASICS OF MEDICAID ď...or what you can and cannot keepĒ

  In order to understand Medicaid qualification, you first need to know how Medicaid treats your assets.

Basically, Medicaid breaks your assets down into two separate categories. The First are those assets which are exempt and the second are those assets which are nonexempt or countable.

Exempt assets are those which Medicaid will not take into account (at least for the time being). Generally the following assets are exempt:

          ∙ The home, no matter its value. The home must be the principal place of residence. The nursing home resident may be required to show some ďintent to return home,Ē even if this never actually takes place.

          ∙ Household and personal belongings, such as furniture, appliances, jewelry and clothing.

          ∙ One vehicle, there may be some limitations on value.

          ∙ Prepaid funeral plans and burial plots.

          ∙ Cash value of life insurance policies, as long as the face value of all policies added together does not exceed $1,500. If it does not exceed $1,500 in total face amount, then the cash value in these policies is countable. Also, term life insurance is exempt.

          ∙ Cash (e.g. a small checking or savings account) not to exceed $2,000.

          ∙ These are basically the assets which Medicaid will ignore, at least for now. Keep in mind, however, that the estate recovery unit may come back to recoup payments made to a Medicaid recipient after the death of the recipient and the recipientís spouse if they are married.

All other assets which are not exempt (i.e. the ones not listed earlier) are countable. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, IRAs, pensions, second cars and so on. While there are some minor exceptions to these rules for the most part, all money and property, as well an any item that can be valued and turned into cash is a countable asset, unless it is one of those listed earlier as exempt.

While the Medicaid rules themselves are complicated and somewhat tricky, for a single person itís safe to say that you will qualify for Medicaid so long as you have only exempt assets plus a small amount of cash, (i.e. $2,000 ).

For a married couple the community spouse (i.e. the one not needing nursing home care) can generally keep one-half of the assets up to a maximum of $92,760.00. Of course, this does not mean there are not things which can be done to protect assets beyond these levels. Instead, this issue of Elder Law and Disability Planning and Strategies is designed to review the basics in a way which a caseworker from Texas Department of Human Resources would do so.

In our past issues we have covered ways that single persons can often protect 50% or even more of their assets, and married couples can often protect all of their assets.

Future issues will be dealing with related topics covering additional Medicaid planning strategies as well as nursing home selection and care issues.

We have provided some communication tips on the reverse side of this newsletter. If you need the check list please call, write or stop by the office and we will be glad to provide you with one.

Free In-Service Training Available:

The Law Firm offers free in-service training on topics related to:

  • Division of Assets

  • Medicaid Planning

  • Guardianship

  • Powers of Attorney

  • Other Elder Law Issues

  • This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney.

    Elder and Disability Law Planning & Strategies is made available and published as a service of Richard M. Barron, Attorney At Law, 209 East Main Street, Whitesboro, Texas 76273, 903-564-3663.

    Richard M. Barron, Attorney at Law encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Richard M. Barron. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Elder and Disability Law Planning & Strategies, then please e-mail us at [email protected]  or call us at 903-564-3663, or fax us at 903-564-5562.


    With so many caregivers now living further away from their aging loved ones, visits home are often alarming because they notice physical and cognitive changes in their parent, relative or friend.

    These visits offer an excellent opportunity to touch base and examine the quality of life of the special older adult in your life. We have provided an Eldercare Checklist to determine how well this individual is doing living at home. Utilize the areas that are applicable to your situation and keep it as reference in the future. Ideally this is done in the home of the older adult, but much of the information can be obtained if they are visiting your home or over the phone. Itís important to take the time to understand thoroughly the older adultís state of health and general well being. Then, you have to determine what type of support you can offer.

    Concentrate on changes you observe. How have things changed and how rapidly? Some of the changes may be alarming and indicate more assistance is needed. However, remember these changes probably were gradual- not dramatic. Continue to enjoy your visit without confrontation and observe your parent, relative or friend functioning throughout the rest of your stay.

    The issues that need to be addressed are very sensitive and should be approached carefully. In some instances, they may be reluctant to share their experiences out of embarrassment, pride or fear. Utilize all your senses, most serious problems can be identified by careful observation.

    Communication Tips:

    ∙ Much of the information you need to know will develop in the general course of conversation. Make sure you are familiar with the issues identified in the checklist and be prepared to listen and ask clarifying questions if a pertinent subject is discussed.

    ∙ Donít interrogate the person. If you ask sensitive questions and show genuine concern, chances are they will open up to you.

    ∙ Be supportive and empathetic, not judgmental. The last thing you want is to appear threatening and put them on the defense.

    ∙ Ask open-ended questions, giving them the opportunity to share the circumstances in their life with you.

    ∙ Donít overwhelm them with questions. It may take several discussions over a period of days to cover all the areas you feel are important.

    If you are in need of the checklist please call, write, or stop by our office and we will be glad to provide you with one.

    Richard M. Barron
    Attorney At Law
    209 East Main Street
    Whitesboro, Texas 76273