The Senex | No.7
Wiser Older (Hu)man
By: Jeremy L. Pryor Esq. | March 8, 2019
Dear Reader—

We hope you are enjoying this periodical and benefiting from it. Last week we received a request to put some of our content on Facebook, and we wanted to let you know that you are welcome to share anything you read here with attribution. Just let us know and we can provide you with the content in a format that suits your purposes. 

Medicaid Estate Recovery of Real Estate
Bear with us here, as this conversation is a bit complex. Generally speaking, when someone qualifies for Medicaid, that person must have no resources/money/property. But in some cases we are able to qualify clients for Medicaid in a nursing home even when they do have some property—typically real estate. When this occurs, the Medicaid rules allow the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to seek recovery of that person’s real estate after her death to pay for the cost of care that she consumed before she died. Historically DMAS has not been very active in pursuing these estate recovery claims, but we learned this week that it has recently hired a professional collections agency to pursue the claims on its behalf. Thus we expect DMAS claims to increase substantially in the next year. There are still methods for protecting the real estate of Medicaid recipients from these estate claims, but executing those methods will now require a little more legal creativity.
Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing?
About a month ago we noticed this story concerning the proposed sale of an assisted living facility. What caught our attention was the location: downtown Richmond. That’s some expensive property and more often associated with VCU student housing than senior living. The story prompted us to think about the many conversations we often have with clients about long term care arrangements and financing options. As Elder Law lawyers, we’re not equipped to advise you or your family on what type of community will best suit your needs or which community is the best fit for you personally. What we can advise you on are which government benefits are available depending on the community you choose. 
Assisted living communities are licensed and regulated differently than skilled nursing facilities. As a result, assisted living communities do not accept Medicaid but skilled nursing facilities do. This is straight-forward but obviously makes a big difference depending on your financial circumstances. In addition, it’s important to know that the Veterans Administration’s Pension benefit (a/k/a “Aid and Attendance”) for veterans and their surviving spouse will often be a helpful funding source in an assisted living community, but rarely makes a difference in paying for a nursing home. While navigating which long term care community is right for you is never solely a consideration of funding sources, it is important to know which government benefits might be available and whether you can use them to make a fully-informed decision.
When we work with clients in need of long term care, we use our knowledge of Medicaid and VA benefits, our clients’ needs, and the property that our clients’ own to come up with a plan that will achieve their goals, preserve as much of their savings as possible, and provide peace of mind for them and their family members. We really enjoy these types of cases, and so would be delighted if we can help you or someone you know.
Happy Friday,

About The Senex
Carrell Blanton Ferris & Associates’ weekly update on aging, wisdom , and the law   | Edited by Jeremy L. Pryor, Chair of the firm’s Elder Law Section