2019 Elder Law Facts

As an Estate Planning/Elder Law practitioner, I continually come across certain widely held beliefs that in fact contain no or little truth.  Such beliefs may cause needless worry or conversely, may give a false sense of security when none is warranted.  So here is an unscrambling of the most common:

Myth 1:

If I or my spouse go into a nursing home, the state will take my home and assets – The state does not take assets just because somebody goes into a nursing home;  a spousal couple can have around $125,000 of assets and a primary residence for the spouse not going into the nursing home; A single individual can only have $2000 in assets including the value of the home.  More assets may be protectable but you should consult with an Elder Law Attorney to find ways to make that work.

Myth 2:

A revocable living trust protects my assets against nursing home costs – No, it does not! an irrevocable trust may, if drafted properly.

Myth 3:

Filing a Homestead document protects my home against nursing home liens – No, it does not.

Myth 4:

Transferring assets out of my name (to somebody other than a spouse) eliminates me from applying for Medicaid for 5 years -True, although you can “cure” the transfer by putting the assets back in your name.

Myth 5:

If I avoid Probate, I avoid Estate Taxes – No, each are distinctly different issues, virtually unrelated to the other.

There are many others, but these are the most common.  Hopefully, this helps.  Like anything else in life, having the correct Estate Planning/Elder Law information allows for better decisions in these areas.

Roger Levine is a Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney with offices in Canton & Brockton.