Medicaid Mistakes


At Douglas H. McPhail, PLC, our Medicaid Attorney wants to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when they apply for Medicaid.

Call our law firm today at (231) 799-4994 to set up your get acquainted call.

While many people assume that a Medicaid spend down is the only way to qualify for government aid, we can help you find ways to pay for nursing home care without losing all your assets.

The Most Common Medicaid Mistakes We’ve Seen Are…

Thinking It's Too Late To Start Medicaid Planning

It’s never too late (or early) to start Medicaid planning. Even if you or a loved one are already living in a nursing home, our attorney can still help you find ways to protect a significant chunk of your estate. The sooner you call our law firm, the better. People who wait until the last minute to start Medicaid planning typically lose more money.

Not Hiring A Medicaid Planning Attorney

Misinformation about Medicaid can cost you thousands of dollars. While we understand you trust your family and friends for advice, you’re better off consulting with a Medicaid planning attorney to learn how you can protect assets and still pay for nursing home care.

It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us that they’ve received conflicting advice from nurses, social workers or other professional advisors. While non-attorney counselors and advisors don’t intentionally spread false information, they also don’t keep up with the latest changes to Medicaid law. And, they aren’t qualified to give legal advice. At Douglas H. McPhail, PLC we can help you better understand how Medicaid fits into your estate and retirement planning while looking out for your best interests.

Hiring An Attorney Without Medicaid Planning Experience

The saying, “jack of all trades, master of none” also applies to attorneys. Before you apply for Medicaid, you’ll want to consult with an attorney who specializes in elder law and Medicaid planning. Otherwise, you could end up with an attorney who doesn’t understand the intricacies of Medicaid law and how they apply to your estate.

Hiring an attorney who doesn’t specialize in Medicaid planning is like having a general family physician perform open heart surgery—not a good idea. Getting the wrong legal advice can cost you thousands of dollars. Douglas H. McPhail, PLC, specializes in elder law and Medicaid planning, which means you can count on us to be a source of accurate information.

Applying For Medicaid Before Consulting An Attorney

Never submit a Medicaid application “just to see if you qualify.” As soon as you apply for Medicaid, you might lose your chance to protect assets. Our elder law attorney can help you determine your Medicaid eligibility and help you come up with strategies to protect your assets from a Medicaid spend-down before you ever apply for help.

Submitting Your Medicaid Application Too Early Or Late

Douglas H. McPhail, PLC can help you determine the best time to submit your Medicaid application. Applying for Medicaid too early can make you ineligible for government aid (sometimes for years) while applying too late means you’ve lost out on months you could have been receiving financial assistance. People who wait too long may have also spent part of their estate to cover nursing home expenses. Fortunately, we can help you calculate the exact date you should submit your Michigan Medicaid application.

Assuming A Living Trust Will Prevent A Medicaid Spend Down

A living trust does not protect your estate from nursing home costs because it is fully revocable. This means that as the trust owner, you can take back the trust principal at any time. Under state and federal law, your trust principal is viewed as an available resource to pay for nursing home care. If you wish to protect your assets from being spent down, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our estate attorney to discuss other estate planning documents.

Trying To Hide Assets

Hiding assets to qualify for Medicaid is fraud, which can result in prosecution and legal action to recover the costs of benefits obtained fraudulently. If you’re worried about losing your assets in a Medicaid spend down, contact us today at (231) 799-4994. Our Medicaid attorney uses asset protection strategies that are both legally-sanctioned and ethical.

The legal strategies we use to protect your assets are never hidden from your Medicaid caseworker. In fact, every transaction must be detailed on your Michigan Medicaid application. We understand that asset protection must be done in a way that’s transparent to government officials and you.

Ignoring Safe Harbors Created By Congress

While making gifts can be an effective estate planning strategy, you should always consult with an expert attorney beforehand to make sure you understand the full consequences. Making large gifts can trigger tax and Medicaid issues that are difficult to resolve.

Under state and federal law, transferring certain assets within 5 years of applying for Medicaid will trigger a penalty period and significantly delay benefits. The more money you transfer, the higher the penalty and waiting period. You should also be careful about transferring assets to family members who may not have your best interests at heart.

Submitting Your Medicaid Application Too Early Or Late

There are certain transfers that don’t risk your Medicaid eligibility, which include transfers to:

  • Disabled children
  • Caretaker children
  • Certain siblings
  • A trust for anyone who is disabled and under age 65
  • A “payback” trust if under age 65
  • A pooled disability trust at any age

About Our Firm

We provide estate planning counsel to our clients protecting their assets and preparing their family's estate planning needs. Learn more about our firm.

Contact Us

Douglas H. McPhail, PLC
800 E. Ellis Road
Norton Shores, MI 49441
(231) 799-4994