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Steer clear of non-lawyers offering Medicaid planning services

As the U.S. population ages, more non-lawyers are starting businesses that offer Medicaid planning services to seniors. While using one of these services may be cheaper than hiring a lawyer, the ultimate costs may be far greater.

If you use a non-lawyer to do Medicaid planning, they may not have any legal knowledge or training. Bad advice can lead seniors to purchase products or take actions that won’t help them qualify for Medicaid and may actually make it more difficult. The consequences of taking bad advice can include the denial of benefits, a Medicaid penalty period or a tax liability.

As a result of problems that have arisen from non-lawyers offering Medicaid planning services, a few states (Florida, Ohio, New Jersey and Tennessee) have issued regulations or guidelines providing that Medicaid planning by non-lawyers will be considered the unauthorized practice of law.

Applying for Medicaid is a highly technical and complex process. A lawyer knowledgeable about Medicaid law in your state can help you navigate this process and may be able to help your family find significant financial savings or better care. This may involve the use of trusts, transfers of assets, purchases of annuities or increased income and resource allowances for the healthy spouse. Talk to your attorney about what might work for you.

 

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