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Understand the lookback period for long-term care planning

Many people don't think about the possible need for long-term care until it's too late. This type of care is costly, and most people won't be able to pay out of pocket for it. Instead, they'll need to have some measure of financial assistance for the costs that come with this type of care. Some individuals hope they'll be able to qualify for Medicaid, but ensuring this can happen may require some special planning.

In order to effectively plan for the possibility of needing to qualify for Medicaid in Michigan, you need five years. This is because the program has a five-year lookback period when determining eligibility. This means that anything you've sold or given away of value can be counted against you during the determination of your benefits.

There are some specific situations in which transfers of assets don't count against you. These include transfers that go to your spouse. Transferring your homestead to your spouse, a child who is under 21 or a few other family-specific situations isn't considered a divestment that would lead to the penalty. Certain other asset transfers, including those that are transferred for another asset of equal value, also won't count against you.

Because the laws about the lookback period and what counts are so specific and complex, you should ensure that you handle your long-term care planning with a person who's familiar with these laws. This gives you a chance to verify that the decisions you make now won't impact your eligibility for Medicaid when you need the program to help you pay for the type of care you require.

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