Five Estate Planning and Elder Law Mistakes that Could Come Back to Haunt You

In honor of Halloween, I’d like to share what I consider to be some of the scariest (and easily avoided) planning mistakes.

Thinking you can become eligible for long-term care assistance from MassHealth by simply giving your assets away.
This might seem like a great idea, but MassHealth has strict guidelines for gifting, including what is called the five-year lookback period.  Improperly giving your money and house to family within five years of applying for MassHealth could lead to a period of ineligibility for benefits.

Thinking MassHealth benefits can only be used for nursing home care. 
MassHealth benefits are also available for health insurance, home care, and assisted living.  Each of these cost money – if we can obtain MassHealth for you, and combine that with payments from your savings, then we can stretch out your assets and keep you out of a nursing home for longer.

Assuming you are ineligible for MassHealth benefits to pay for long-term care.
While MassHealth does have asset and income limits, proper planning can address them and improve one’s chances of becoming eligible for long-term care assistance.

Failing to keep your plan up to date.
It’s surprising how many people take the time to create an estate plan and then never think about it again.  Your plan should be reviewed at least every three years and any time there’s a significant change in your family, health, or finances.

Failing to plan at all.
If you don’t have key legal documents such as a will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy, you have no control over “who gets what,” how your estate will be settled when you pass away, who will make medical and financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity, the type of care you receive during serious illness, and more.  Instead, the courts will decide these important matters for you using state and federal guidelines.

As always, I’m here to help you avoid these and other planning mistakes. Until next time, take care….