Those who are starting to consider long-term care needs may want to take steps to qualify for Medicaid.

Three tips that can help better ensure you make the most of your hard earned assets include:

  • Gifting. If you are building your estate with the hopes of passing on assets to future generations, consider starting the process early. It helps out those who may need it when they need it most while giving you the opportunity to enjoy the gift getting put to use.
  • Trusts. If you have specific requirements for assets, such as taking care of the welfare of a spouse or special needs child, a trust may help achieve these goals. Trusts are legal tools that allow the creator to have greater control over the assets than an outright gift.
  • Transfers. In some cases, it is wise to transfer the title of property. This can help lower your net worth, allowing you to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Anyone that is considering taking these steps to qualify for Medicaid benefits must also keep the look back period in mind.

What is the look back period? The look back period refers to the time that will be reviewed prior to applying for Medicaid. This portion of planning is so important that Forbes recently published a piece discussing some of its intricacies.

Generally, any gifts or transfers that are made within five years prior to an application to receive Medicaid benefits are subject to penalties. If these steps are taken in advance of this look back period, penalties are unlikely. As a result, planning must be done in advance of the application process.

Do I need a lawyer? Although these tips can help to better ensure the odds of successfully qualifying for Medicaid benefits, the process is a lengthy and complex one. As such, those who are interested in making the most of their estate are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced elder law attorney. This legal professional can review your estate and help to tailor a plan to meet your needs.