Good, old Dragnet. One thing you could always count on from Joe Friday was direct questions meant to collect the information he needed to solve his case. That skill is common across lawyers who are experts in their chosen field. Any lawyer can do “issue spotting,” collecting enough information to know there’s a problem, but not really knowing what the problem is. But an expert will use his questions like a scalpel, carefully seeking out the information he needs and collecting facts that your average general practice lawyer won’t know are important until it’s too late.
Speaking of the Facts
Speaking of facts, did you know that Joe Friday never actually said, “Just the facts, ma’am”? It’s a quote that is misattributed to him. Someone, somewhere, started using that line in a Joe Friday impersonation, and now everyone, everywhere thinks of Dragnet when they hear it.
That’s kind of the way things work with elder law and long-term care planning, too. Some lawyer, somewhere, learns a word like “lookback” or even a strategy like “gifting” and, pretty soon, everyone, everywhere, thinks gifting and the lookback are all you need to think about when you’re planning for Medicaid.
So, when you contact a lawyer to talk about nursing home planning, Medicaid, or gifting, make sure you ask questions about the transfer penalty or the penalty divisor. For a married nursing home resident, find out about the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance (MMMNA) and the community spouse resource allowance (CSRA).
These are the basics of the Medicaid rules, and your lawyer should know the answers by heart.
Just One More Thing
And we’re back to crime dramas. Columbo was famous for collecting every detail needed to close a case. And, like Joe Friday, Columbo followed the facts to their logical conclusion. An elder law expert will follow much the same approach, collecting detail upon detail through one or more interviews with you and your family then using those details to analyze and apply the multitude of tools available.
With a long-term care planning expert on your side, you’ll find that the solution seems perfectly simple in its application regardless of the level of complexity required to put it in place.