Florida residents are eligible for free health care and nursing home services if they possess only limited resources. For Florida residents, non-exempt assets must be below $2,000 to qualify. Exempt assets include one’s home, personal belongings, household furnishings, an automobile, irrevocable burial trusts and certain income-producing real estate. Anyone who is incurring substantial health care and medical expenses will eventually become eligible for Medicaid once they spend down their assets.
If you try to divest yourself of assets by giving your assets away to your children, Medicaid has a five-year look back that would exclude the applicant from eligibility for five years from the date of the gift. However, some people do transfer assets to an irrevocable trust as early as possible in order to eventually gain Medicaid eligibility and still maintain at least some limited control over the assets.
Nevertheless, many people would like the option of becoming eligible for Medicaid without spending down all of their assets or giving them away because they would not only like to receive nursing home services from Medicaid but they would still like to leave their children an inheritance. Therefore, Medicaid planning may involve the conversion of non-exempt assets to exempt assets. For instance, one could move to a more expensive home, buy burial plots for family members or even invest in income-producing real estate.
Married couples have some planning opportunities because assets may be transferred from the applicant spouse to the non-applicant spouse in order to make one spouse eligible. The spouse of someone who is applying for Medicaid is allowed to own up to $123,600 of nonexempt assets without disqualifying the applicant spouse. With proper planning and foresight, it’s possible to become eligible for Medicaid to pay for nursing-home care without having to spend down all of one’s assets.
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