Many seniors and their families don’t use a lawyer to plan for long-term care or Medicaid, often because they are afraid of the cost. But an attorney can help you save money in the long run, as well as make sure you are getting the best care possible for your loved one.
Instead of taking steps based on what you’ve heard from others, doing nothing, or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can and should hire an elder law attorney. Here are a few reasons why you should strongly consider this option:
- No conflict of interest.
When nursing homes refer the families of residents to non-lawyers to assist in preparing the Medicaid application, the preparer has dual loyalties, both to the facility that provides the referrals and to the client applying for benefits. To the extent everyone wants the Medicaid application to be successful, there’s no conflict of interest. However, while it is in the nursing home’s interest that the resident pay privately for as long as possible before going on Medicaid, it is instead in the resident’s best interest to protect assets for his or her own care or for the care of the resident’s spouse or family. An attorney hired to assist with Medicaid planning and the application process has a duty of loyalty only to the client and will do his or her best to achieve their client’s goals.
2. Saving money.
The average cost of Nursing Home care in Pennsylvania is between $9.000 and $10,000 a month. So when assessing the legal fees that may be charged by an attorney, one should keep in mind the substantial savings that can be achieved by preserving assets and avoiding an extended private pay stay at a nursing home.
3. Deep knowledge and experience.
Professionals who work in any field on a daily basis over many years develop both the depth and breadth of experience and expertise to advise clients on how they might achieve their goals, whether those are maintaining independence and dignity, preserving funds for children and grandchildren, or staying at home rather than moving to an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Less experienced advisers, however well intentioned, can’t advise on what they don’t know.
4. Malpractice insurance.
While we should expect that every professional we work with will provide outstanding service and representation, sometimes things don’t work out. Fortunately, there is a remedy if an attorney makes a mistake because almost all attorneys carry malpractice insurance. This is probably not the case with other advisers in the Medicaid arena, where mistakes can be costly.
5. Peace of mind.
It is possible that when you consult with an elder law attorney, the attorney may advise you that in your situation there is not much you can do to preserve assets or achieve Medicaid eligibility more quickly. Even if this is the case, a consultation will provide peace of mind that you have not missed an important opportunity. In addition, if obstacles arise during the process, the attorney will be there to work with you to find the optimal solution.
Medicaid rules provide multiple opportunities for nursing home residents to preserve assets for themselves, their spouses and children and grandchildren, especially those with special needs. There are more opportunities for those who plan ahead, but even at the last minute, there are almost always still steps available to preserve some assets. Consequently, it is always worth investigating whether these are steps you would like to take.
For help in understanding the complex Medicaid rules and assistance with asset protection planning and applying for benefits, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Zacharia Brown. You may schedule an appointment by visiting our website at PittsburghElderLaw.com or by calling 724.942.6200.