Today’s Q&A on concerns Government Benefits

Question:  “My 31 year old son is disabled and has lived with his 89 year old grandmother for about 10 years.  He does not hold a job and receives Social Security Disability, Medicare and Medicaid.  Now that his grandmother is ill and not expected to live much longer, I am concerned that he will have no place to live.  Is there any way that his grandmother can transfer title of her house to him upon her death and not affect his existing government benefits?

Answer:  The answer to your question is not that simple.  The short answer is that a person who is receiving means tested governmental assistance such as Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid can own a home and if someone on behalf of the special needs person is paying any of the mortgage payments or any payments of money that can be considered support and maintenance such as payments for shelter and/or food then their benefits can be reduced.  The following is a list or countable and non-countable resources as well as a description of in-kind income support and maintenance (ISM) as well some basic rules for Special Needs Trusts. 

SSI Rules

Social Security will categorize any distribution you make to or for the beneficiary as some form of income, subject to its “income rules”.  Then, if the income buys some kind of asset (or becomes an asset itself such as money in a bank account), the asset will be subject to separate “resource rules”.

SSI Rules: Assets

(1)      Countable Resources

Generally, a “countable resource” is any asset considered by SSI rules to determine eligibility (therefore a resource is sometimes called a “countable asset”).  It could be tangible, like a second car, or it could be intangible, like a savings account.  An SSI recipient and beneficiary is allowed to have only $2,000.00 or less in “resources”.  If resources exceed $2,000.00 during any whole calendar month (even by a few cents), the beneficiary’s public benefits may be terminated.

Income that is received during the month is considered “income” throughout the calendar month of receipt, even if it is deposited in a bank account.  If, at the end of the month, it is still in the account, it becomes a “resource” in the next month and is then subject to “resource” rules. 

(2)      Excluded Resources

A person who is receiving SSI (called beneficiary) is allowed to have certain exempt assets, which are excluded from the $2,000.00 limit.  These exempt assets are not counted in determining eligibility, and the beneficiary’s ownership of them will not jeopardize his or her SSI benefits.  A person or Trust should not give the beneficiary the money to purchase exempt assets himself or herself – payments of money are always considered countable income.  The following assets are exempt:

  • A home, including adjacent land, if the beneficiary lives in it or intends to return to it;
  • Household goods (furniture, furnishings, household equipment, household supplies), and personal effects (toiletries, items of personal care and education, clothing and jewelry — however, giving the beneficiary food or clothing is “in-kind support”, as explained below) — all limited to a total value of $2,000.00;
  • One automobile (or other vehicle) limited in value unless needed for specific or regular medical treatments, modified to handicapped use, or especially needed for essential daily activities (please consult us on the current allowable value);
  • A burial plot, or other burial space, worth any amount; and
  • Life insurance with a cash surrender value, if its face value is less than $1,500.00, and all term life insurance or
  • An irrevocable funeral contract with a value of up to $2,000.00 or
  • A burial fund, worth up to $1,500.00.

All the assets above are specifically exempted by law.  You might note that a number of common and useful items are not specifically mentioned as exempt in the SSI regulations, but are not counted because they are included among “personal effects” or are considered services.  These include:

  • Recreational equipment, games and crafts
  • Books and magazines
  • Telephone, answering machine
  • Television, radio and cable service
  • Musical instruments and stereo
  • Travel and education
  • Recreation and entertainment
  • Some home maintenance, such as gardening

SSI Rules:     Income

(4)     “In-kind support and maintenance(ISM)

If the beneficiary receives food, clothing or shelter as a result of payments by the Trustee or by  a person  to the beneficiary or on behalf of the beneficiary will have income in the form of “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM).  ISM causes a reduction in the beneficiary’s SSI payments.

However, in many cases, the Trustee has authority to make decisions which are in the best interest of the beneficiary.  That may require examining carefully how the rules regarding “in-kind support and maintenance” will be applied.  Problems can arrive when “in-kind income” consists of food or shelter.  The beneficiary’s SSI benefits will be reduced or eliminated if he or she receives ISM.

The theory behind the reduction or elimination is that SSI benefits are specifically intended to pay for a person’s food, clothing, and shelter, so if that person receives those things from another source, then less SSI benefits are needed.  As a result, if you pay the beneficiary’s grocery bill, rent, provide meals (for example, in a restaurant), or buy a coat for the beneficiary, you are providing ISM to the beneficiary.  In theory, you are then also reducing his or her need for SSI benefits.

There are sometimes some very fine distinctions between allowable “in-kind income” and countable ISM.  For example, you can pay for some travel arrangements but not others (for example, charged airline tickets, but not a hotel room, because that is shelter).  You can pay for some entertainment expenses, but not others (for example, a movie ticket but not a restaurant meal, as it is food).

Note also that you can pay for certain medications and alternative health treatments if they are not covered by Medicaid or other benefit programs.  If the beneficiary purchases a home, ISM can arise each month when the trust pays the beneficiary’s mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance or utilities (gas, water, electricity, garbage collection).  ISM can also arise if the trust purchases a home in which the beneficiary resides.

If you do give ISM to the beneficiary, his or her SSI benefits will be reduced, but not on a dollar-for-dollar basis, like with cash.  There are two different formulas that Social Security uses to reduce the SSI benefits for a person who receives ISM.  Which formula is used depends on the household and living arrangements of the SSI recipient.  Determining which rule and how it applies can be complicated and quite detailed, like income or estate tax planning.  If you have questions or concerns about the impact on your beneficiary of ISM payments, please ask us for assistance.  We are available to help you on such issues.

Don L. Rosenberg, Attorney and Counselor
The Center for Elder Law
Troy, Michigan
An ElderCare Matters Partner

Today’s Q&A on is about the Role of Long Term Care Ombudsmen

Question:  3 months ago my sisters and I reluctantly placed our mother (who is 81 years old) in a local nursing home.  Now she is about 30 pounds thinner, doesn’t speak, smells terribly and has bed sores.  We believe that this is the result of poor care provided by the nursing home.  Is there anyone we can contact to “check out” this nursing home and to help us resolve these quality of care issues?  Several of our friends have suggested that we contact the State Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office.  We are not sure what the role of the Ombudsman’s office is.  Can you please educate us on this elder care agency?

Answer:  The Long Term Care Ombudsman program is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA), and each state (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam) has a Long Term Care Ombudsman program. 

Long Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for the residents of long term care facilities, including nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities.  They are trained to help residents (and the families of residents) resolve problems that they may be experiencing with long term care facilities.

Long Term Care Ombudsmen can help families address the following long term care concerns:

  • Violation of  the resident’s rights or dignity
  • Physical, verbal or mental abuse
  • Poor quality of care
  • Inappropriate use of restaints

You can contact your state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman program by visiting, or if you would prefer you can contact one of the professional members of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance at, who can help you with these types of elder care matters.

Hope this helps.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families


Certified Care Manager answers family’s question on

Question:  Will my parents’ long term care insurance policies pay for day care for my father.  Mom is the primary caregiver and needs this “time off” from dad in order not to become totally exhausted.  Please advise.

Answer:  Without seeing your parent’s specific policy, it is impossible to know what is or is not covered.   Some policies only offer payment for specific services such as a non-medical caregiver in the home, a Geriatric Care Manager or the monthly cost for a facility.  In addition, many companies sell riders to the basic policy to cover additional types of services beyond what the basic policy covers.  Some of the newer policies pay a flat amount of money each month and allow the insured to determine how the money is spent.  I recommend you review your parent’s insurance policy to determine the specific benefits allowed to them under their policy.  It may also be helpful to talk with the insurance company directly to ensure you are taking full advantage of the benefits they are entitled to receive.

You can locate elder care professionals near you who can help you with these types of elder care matters by searching – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

Heather Frenette, RN, MSN, CMC
Certified Care Manager
Desert Care Management
Premium Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Arizona chapter

The role of Executor, as provided by Attorney James Siebert

Question:  “My mother died about 3 weeks ago, and I am the Executor of her estate. How should I proceed in fulfilling my role as Executor of her estate?”

Answer:  First, my condolences on your Mother’s death.   Since you know that you are the Executor, you should locate the original Last Will, and get a general idea in regard to the amounts of her assets and liabilities. At that point you need to meet with an experienced Probate Attorney in the area your Mother resided to determine the next step.  First, you need to understand that Probate and state administration rules are State specific, and accordingly vary from State to State. Since I practice law only in Illinois, the explanations contained herein apply to Illinois cases, but other States have similar procedures. The Probate Attorney you retain should be able to analyze your Mother’s assets and liabilities to determine whether it is necessary or advisable to probate her Estate or whether the matter can be handled by your jurisdiction’s version of a small estates affidavit.

In Illinois, if your Mother’s assets are less than $100,000.00 and do not include real property, then you would be able to avoid probate while still paying her creditors and then distributing the balance pursuant to the terms of her Last Will.  If all of your Mother’s assets were held in joint accounts with other individuals, were held in Trust or in accounts with transfer on death provisions, you might not need to probate the estate or complete a small estates affidavit.  In that situation you still need to meet with the Probate Attorney, so he can advise you whether those assets are subject to claims of your Mother’s creditors.

If none of the above exceptions are applicable, then your Mother’s estate will probably have to go through the Probate process.  Probate is the legal process by which the court system distributes your property, pays your debts, and settles disputes after your death.  With the exception of real property, probate generally takes place in the county of the decedent’s residence, at the date of death. The probate process will be different depending upon which State you are located. Since I practice in Illinois

There are two types of probate estates: intestate estates, where the decedent died without a will; and testate estates, where the decedent had a will. These types of estates are handled similarly, but with some fundamental differences.

An intestate estate is opened for a person who dies without a will. In that case, State law controls and determines who is in charge of the estate, which creditors get paid, how much they get paid, in what order they get paid, which heirs receive the decedent’s assets, and in what proportions. A testate estate is one where the decedent died leaving a Last Will and Testament.  The person’s Will names the Executor, who is the person the court will appoint to collect the decedent’s assets, pay bills, resolve disputes, and ultimately pay out the assets to the individuals the decedent named in his or her Will.

If your Mother owned real property in more than one State, you will end up having multiple Probates. All of an individual’s assets are generally probated in the Estate of their primary residence, except for Real Property which must be probated in the State where it is located. This is referred to as ancillary probate.

In general, the person seeking to open the estate will file the appropriate petition with the Court in the county of the decedent’s legal residence, along with numerous other legal papers. The petition will be set for hearing before the appropriate court, at which time the Judge will review the documents, determine that the proper individual is bringing the petition, that any surety on any bond required is obtained, and that the decedent’s heirs are properly identified. If everything is in order, the Judge will order the estate open and issue letters of office to the individual bringing the petition.

In Illinois, notices must be sent to all heirs and legatees or, if not, the person bringing the petition must obtain their waiver and consent to probate and the appointment of the administrator or executor. In addition, notice of the opening of the estate must be given to the public so that decedent’s creditors may make their claims against the estate. The opening of the estate and the publishing of the notice begins the six month claims period, in which creditors must file their claims against the estate or be barred forever from asserting said claims.

The personal representative must do an inventory of the decedent’s assets, and keep track of records of all the transactions of the estate. A personal representative will prepare inventories, accountings and reports to present to the heirs, legatees and/or the court, depending upon the type of probate proceedings. A personal representative will also be responsible for filing the appropriate taxes for the estate.

After all claims are paid, all disputes resolved, and the inventory and the accounting are complete, the personal representative can distribute the estate. The estate will be distribute in conformity with the plan laid out in decedent’s will in testate proceedings, or as provided by State statute in intestate proceedings. The personal representative may be responsible for funding any testate trusts, including any trusts for the decedent’s children.

This is meant only as a general explanation of the process of handling someone’s estate after their death. There are many very complex variations which can occur in any Estate matter and therefore it is essential that you obtain State specific legal advice from an experienced Probate Attorney prior to taking any actions in regard to your Mother’s Estate. 

James C. Siebert, Attorney at Law
The Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates
Arlington Heights, Illinois  60004
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Illinois chapter


Today’s Q&A on is about Special Needs Trusts

Question:  “My wife and I (who are in our 60s) have been encouraged to set up a Special Needs Trust for our disabled adult child.  Could you please tell us why this would be necessary?  Also, could you please provide us with a little background information on this type of legal instrument?

Answer:  Among the many challenges facing parents of children with special needs is planning for the time when the parents will no longer be around to act as the primary caregivers. Advance planning by parents can make all the difference in the life of the child with special needs, as well as for siblings who may be left with caretaking responsibilities.

A Special Needs Trust for your disabled child should be part of an overall plan for your child.  If the parent is the legal guardian for the disabled child, it is essential as part of the planning is to arrange for the orderly transfer of the guardianship to a successor.  A Special Needs Trust is a trust created for a chronically disabled beneficiary, which supplements government benefits like Medicaid.  Medicaid and other government benefit programs consider the resources and income of an individual for purposes of determining eligibility and the amount of such assistance. With a Special Needs Trust, however, someone may establish a trust for a disabled individual without jeopardizing that individual’s eligibility for government benefits. Special needs trusts allow a disabled beneficiary to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and yet not lose his or her eligibility for certain government programs. Such trusts are drafted so that the funds will not be considered to belong to the beneficiary in determining eligibility for public benefits.

Often, special needs trusts are created by a parent or other family member for a child with special needs, even though the child may be an adult by the time the trust is created or funded. Such trusts are set up as a way for an individual to leave assets to a disabled relative. As their name implies, special needs trusts are designed not to provide basic support, but instead to pay for comforts and luxuries that could not be paid for by public assistance funds. These trusts typically pay for things like education, recreation, counseling, and medical attention beyond the simple necessities of life. However, the trustee can use trust funds for food, clothing, and shelter if the trustee decides doing so is in the beneficiary’s best interest despite a possible loss or reduction in public assistance. Special needs can include medical and dental expenses, annual independent check-ups, necessary or desirable equipment  training and education, insurance, transportation, and essential dietary needs. If the trust is sufficiently funded, the disabled person can also receive spending money, electronic equipment and appliances, computers, vacations, movies, payments for a companion, and other self-esteem and quality-of-life enhancing expenses.

It is important to plan to ensure that your child receives appropriate therapies and medical treatments.  It is essential to take the time necessary to find appropriate caregivers who will carry out your wishes and respect your child’s goals, dreams and life expectations.  At the same time, Predators are particularly attracted to vulnerable beneficiaries, such as the young and those with limited self-protective capacities. When you plan with trusts, you decide who has access to the information about your children’s inheritance. This protects your child and other family members, who may be serving as trustees, from predators.

It is important that special needs trusts not be unnecessarily inflexible and generic. Although an attorney with some knowledge of trusts can protect almost any trust from invalidating the child’s public benefits, an attorney without special needs experience may not customize the trust to the particular child’s needs, and the child may not receive the benefits that the parent provided when they were alive.

You can find professionals near you who are knowledgeable about Special Needs Trusts on – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

James C. Siebert, Attorney at Law
The Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates
Arlington Heights, Illinois  60004
Professional Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Illinois chapter

Today’s Q&A on is about deducting parent’s Elder Care expenses on the child’s tax returns

Question:  My mother is 87 years old and lives in an assisted living facility, which cost about $4,000 per month.  She has no assets to speak of and very little income, i.e. she has a small monthly Social Security check and a very small monthly pension.  I have been paying for her care in the assisted living facility.  Is there anyway that my husband and I can deduct what we pay for mom’s medical care in the assisted living facilty on our individual income tax returns?  Please provide your answer as soon as possible because we are about to file our 2012 individual income tax returns.

Answer:  Yes, a child can deduct medical expenses that they paid on behalf of their parent (even if the parent doesn’t qualify as one of their dependents, doesn’t live with them and has a gross income that exceeds $3,800 (for tax year 2012)) if the child provided over half of the parent’s total support during the tax year.  Assuming that the child paid more than 50% of their parent’s total support during this tax year, then the medical expenses paid on the parent’s behalf in excess of 7.5% of the child’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) are deductible on the child’s individual income tax returns as itemized deductions.

If you have additional questions about your family’s elder care matters, you can count on ( America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources) to help you find some of America’s top elder care professionals near you who can help you plan for and deal with a total of 86 different elder care services, including Elder Law, Geriatric Care Management, Daily Money Management, Estate Planning, Senior Housing, Investment Planning, Tax Planning & Preparation, plus many other elder care services.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder & CEO of


Today’s Q&A on is about VA Benefits and Long Term Care Insurance

Question:  I am an honorably discharged Vietnam era veteran with more than 90 days active duty service.  I am 66 and researching long term care insurance for my wife and myself.  What do I need to know about VA benefits available to me and how that might affect the insurance coverage I would purchase from a private provider?

Answer:  There are many types of benefits available to qualified veterans of the United States military and/or available to the surviving spouses of qualified veterans after they have passed away.  Of those many benefits, the two largest benefit programs offered through the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (“VA”) are:

(i)    Benefits awarded for service-connected disability, formally termed “Compensation” by VA; and

(ii)    Benefits awarded for non service-connected disability, formally termed “Pension” VA.

From the description you provided in your question, I will presume you are not currently suffering from a disability connected to your military service.  Succinctly, a Pension benefit award is where the VA will pay a certain amount monthly to a qualified veteran as a reimbursement to offset unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical costs.  The actual amount of the award is determined by subtracting from the veteran’s total income all recurring unreimbursed qualified medical expenses.  Bear in mind, when a veteran is married, VA will account for the total income and expenses of the family together, not just that of the veteran.  At times the benefit claimant will often need to present the properly documented opinion of their medical provider to prove to the VA that certain types of medical-related expenses are necessary.

Your question is about how long term care insurance would interact with VA benefits.  Ultimately, in a properly prepared and filed VA benefit application, VA should recognize the out of pocket cost of premiums paid for long term care insurance as a recurring medical expense that can be taken into account to offset income.  However, when a long term care insurance policy begins paying benefits, it will reduce the total countable recurring medical expenses in the amount of the benefits paid. 

In your question, you did not indicate whether you are suffering health difficulties now or if you are healthy but trying to plan for your future in the event you become ill and need long term care.  Planning proactively is wise and you are well-advised to consult a capable elder law attorney to help you devise a comprehensive plan to safeguard your family financially and to best ensure you will be well taken care of now and in the future.  By proactively planning now you will help ensure that you will be eligible for the maximum benefit possible from the VA.

You can find Elder Law Attorneys near you on – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources.

Hope this helps.

Henry C. Weatherby, Esq., CLU, ChFC, CEBS
Weatherby & Associates
Bloomfield, Connecticut  06002
Premium Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Connecticut Chapter


What is the difference between Continuing Care and Skilled Care?

Question:  My sister and I are caregivers to our mother and have been for quite some time.  However, we still don’t understand what the difference is between Continuing Care and Skilled Care.  Would you please define these two elder care terms for us?

Answer:  Skilled care is ideal for patients who cannot live independently due to fairly pronounced physical or cognitive ailments.  Although the level of care delivered is not the same degree as in an acute care situation that necessitates a hospital visit, a patient receiving skilled care must generally be monitored by a team of skilled nurse providers and other health team members, twenty-four hours a day.  The most common location for a patient to receive skilled care is in a nursing home, which is now commonly referred to as a skilled nursing facility (“SNF”). 

In contrast, the term “continuing care” generally refers to care provided in some sort of a facility that can accommodate a wide variety of capabilities in its residents – ranging from complete independence to a need for quite a bit of care and assistance.  There are now many so-called continuing care retirement communities (“CCRC’s”) that offer this sort of spectrum of care to residents.  In a CCRC, seniors can “age in place,” meaning the resident does not need to relocate when their deteriorating health means an increasing level of care is required.  That can give residents a sense of comfort and can decrease their anxiety about what will happen in a health crisis. 

Sometimes, a health issue is so pronounced there is no other option than for a brief of long-term residency in a SNF, since a CCRC may have an upper limit to the level of care they are equipped to handle.  Sometimes, a CCRC may have a separate portion of the facility that is effectively its own skilled nursing facility.  There, a resident may be able to stay in their original residence from full independence up until assisted living, but then relocate when skilled nursing is required.  A small move to a different area within the same facility would likely be less traumatic than relocation to an entirely different, unfamiliar SNF. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a CCRC?  The obvious advantage is the desirability of living somewhere where the resident can likely receive whatever type of care they need for the near foreseeable future.  Because many residents in a CCRC need little or no care, it will be easier to participate in activities to stay active and to find peers with which to socialize.  The main disadvantage of a CCRC is they can be quite expensive and they do not accept residents on Medicaid. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages to a skilled SNF?   The main “advantage” so to speak is a SNF may be the only place in which a resident can be taken care of properly.  For example, many CCRC’s simply cannot care for a resident who developed pronounced dementia, whereas many (but not all) SNF’s may be equipped for that sort of patient.  A disadvantage of SNF’s is that almost all the residents will be quite frail and/or very ill.  For a senior who is only moderately weak or having slight difficulties, it will probably be demoralizing to now be surrounded by the very sick.  

Financially speaking, the private pay cost for SNF’s are extremely expensive, so expensive that patients are unable to bear the costs out-of-pocket for very long.  However, almost all SNF’s can and do accept residents on Medicaid.  For those that have the financial means, and assuming a senior’s heath conditions permit it, residency in a CCRC can be highly desirable. 

The key point to bear in mind is it is undoubtedly advantageous to start planning for long-term care long before there is a health care crisis.  For some seniors, their primary concern is to make sure they are well-cared for, and in the residence setting they find most desirable.  Many seniors would also like to take steps to make sure the assets they have worked a lifetime to accumulate are not squandered unnecessarily.  I highly recommend that a senior and/or the family of a senior consult with a competent elder law attorney as soon as they can, when they are financially sound and they are in good health.  That is the ideal time to devise a good plan that addresses both health needs and financial issues, for the present and for the future, that is also flexible enough to be updated and adapted when family circumstances do change.

Henry C. Weatherby, Attorney at Law
Weatherby & Associates, PC
Bloomfield, Connecticut
Premium Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Connecticut chapter

Today’s Q&A on deals with options for Elder who has newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s Disease

Question:  “Help!  My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and my family and I have no idea how to proceed in helping her.  At what point do we consider nursing home care, and how will we afford this, etc??  Please provide us with some guidance as to how we should proceed and what our options may be.”

Answer:  The first place to start is with your mother’s doctor.  He will be in the best position to assess your mother’s need for long-term care.  This could be an immediate need or one that will develop over a period of time.  If the doctor feels that she needs immediate long-term care then he will complete the necessary paperwork to have your mother’s condition reviewed by the Medicaid people in your state.

Assuming that Medicaid agrees that your mother needs long-term care at this time, your next step is to sit down with an experienced Medicaid planning attorney.  The Medicaid planning attorney will review your mother’s legal documents –particularly her durable power of attorney- to make sure that they comply with current law.  Of course, if your mother is still married, then the attorney will review your Dad’s documents as well.  If not, then he will prepare a new durable power of attorney for her (again, she must be competent at this stage to avoid a guardianship proceeding) and perhaps your Dad as well.

The Medicaid planning attorney will review your mother’s monthly income and overall wealth to determine what type of Medicaid planning tools are needed to protect her estate.  If she has too much monthly income (over $2130 per month), then he will prepare a Qualified Income Trust to insure that she passes the income test.  If she received less than $2130 per month, then this step will be unnecessary.

Next, the attorney will review her assets.  As a Medicaid applicant she is only allowed to retain $2,000 in assets (cash or cash equivalents, stocks, bonds, etc.).  If excess assets exist, the attorney will look to see what other avenues are available to protect the remaining assets.  This may include a personal services contract, trusts for the benefit of a disabled adult or minor child, purchasing a pre-paid funeral contract, setting aside and designating a burial fund, purchasing a burial plot and arranging for and paying for the headstone.  There may be other purchases for clothing, etc. that may come into play to get her down to the $2,000.00 limit.  If Mom is married this will be somewhat easier as she can transfer property to your father without incurring a penalty.

Either your Mother’s doctor or the attorney that you pick to help you should be able to recommend the proper living environment for your mother.  I would suggest that you personally visit all of the facilities that are discussed to make sure that you get the proper fit for your mother.

The Medicaid application can be completed by any number of people.  Your attorney may do it, a paralegal can do it or someone at the assisted living facility or nursing home can do it for you.  The attorney and the paralegal, of course, will charge you for this work.  It is best to seek their help as they should have the needed experience to do it properly and to avoid the pitfalls that you might see.

As long as you put together a good team of doctor and attorney you should not find the application process to be all that difficult.  The difficulty usually comes up with searching for the back-up documents that support your answers on the Medicaid application.  Just remember that each application is different from the last one so do rely on the help of the individuals mentioned in this answer. is a good resource to use to find Medicaid Planning Attorneys across America who can help you with these types of Elder Care Matters.

I. Michael Tucker, Attorney at Law
Law Office of I. Michael Tucker, PLC
Altamonte Springs, Florida  32701
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter

Attorney/Caregiver Encourages ALL Elder Care Professionals to be listed on

Question:  “I am not only an attorney, but also a member of a family that is struggling with a host of elder care matters, similar to what millions of other families across America are wrestling with.  With this in mind, I would appreciate it if you would let me know what I can do to help you encourage ALL Elder Care Professionals across America to be listed on this online Elder Care Directory.  In my opinion, is quite simply a wonderful resource to help all families across America with their elder care matters, including 1) finding elder care professionals near them,  2) finding useful elder care articles and 3) getting answers to a wide range of elder care questions.  Thank you for providing American families with this wonderful online Elder Care Directory.

Answer:  Thank you very much for your kind comments regarding  It is our goal here at to provide ALL families across America with an easy to navigate online resource so that they can find competent, caring Elder Care Professionals near them as well as find useful Elder Care Articles plus get their questions about Elder Care Matters answered by some of America’s top Elder Care Professionals.

Although we now have tens of thousands of Elder Care Professionals listed on, we too believe that ALL Elder Care Professionals across America should be listed on this national online Elder Care Directory.  With this goal in mind, any assistance you can provide us in “getting the word out” within your state to encourage ALL Elder Care Professionals to get listed on would be appreciated, not only by us but also by the tens of thousands of American families who rely on every month to help them plan for and/or deal with their family’s elder care matters.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder of – America’s online Directory of Elder Care Resources

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ElderCare Matters Articles are useful and up-to-date Elder Care / Senior Care articles that are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners to help you plan for and deal with your family's elder care matters.

If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.

For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.