The old cliché, “Timing is everything,” is true in many ways. It certainly applies to Medicaid planning. Wait too long and you might not qualify for Medicaid assistance with paying for an assisted living facility or nursing home for yourself or your spouse. But you don’t necessarily want to start preparing for Medicaid qualifying any sooner than necessary either.
So when is the right time for people in the Philadelphia area to begin Medicaid planning? There is no black-and-white answer, but sooner is usually better than later.
The closer you are to retirement…
Most people in their 30s and 40s don’t need to worry about Medicaid planning. But as you enter your 50s and 60s and get close to retirement age, it should be something to start thinking about. Even if you and your spouse are in good health now, you never know when a sudden accident or illness will leave you unable to live independently anymore. Without Medicaid planning in place, you could be stuck paying colossal nursing home bills.
Consider the lookback period
Another issue is the five-year lookback period. When you apply, Medicaid reviews your asset transfers going back five years. Transfers like gifts and sales below market value can lead to a penalty period, during which time you cannot receive Medicaid assistance. Thus, the sooner you begin paring down your assets using Medicaid planning, the better prepared you will be if you need help affording nursing home care.
If you believe it might be time for you to start Medicaid planning, a conversation with an attorney who practices this area of the law can be helpful to figure out for sure what your current needs are.