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Are there legal ways to protect assets and still qualify for Medicaid Long Term Care benefits?

Yes there are many ways to protect assets, and even income, while still qualifying for Medicaid benefits.

The basic concept is to exchange assets and income that Medicaid counts against qualification for assets that Medicaid does not count against qualification.

In Florida, a qualified attorney must make the initial determination of the appropriate asset protection strategies available for a particular client.  However, an attorney does not have to be a “Board Certified” Elder Law Attorney to determine the appropriate strategies, recommend and draft appropriate legal documents, or apply for benefits if they so choose.  While the "Board Certified" status does require the passing of an exam regarding a broad range of elder care issues, the designation does not guarantee that the attorney will know, understand, or recommend the most cutting edge strategies to qualify for Nursing Home Medicaid.  Further, the designation does not guarantee Medicaid approval.  There is nothing wrong with the designation, in fact, in the absence of any other guidance regarding the competency of an attorney in the field of "Medicaid Planning" there is merit to the idea that the designation would increase the odds of finding an attorney with the needed knowledge over a random attorney selection. 

However, while strategy determination and document creation are important, the real work and skill lies in the implementation of the recommended strategies and the processing of the application.  The processing company must understand the strategy, the legal documents, how to interface with financial companies, various professionals, family members, the nursing home, Medicaid personnel, and so much more.

When using a quality processing company a money back guarantee will be provided that assures a full return of any fee paid if the processing company fails to obtain Medicaid approval for the month agreed upon at the time of hiring the company.  While it should never be necessary to collect the refund, it should provide reassurance that such a guarantee is offered.

In summary, there are various legal strategies and processes that can be implemented to obtain Medicaid benefits without breaking laws.  The best approach is a team approach.  The team should be familiar with each other and work in tandem to accomplish the goals of the client.