Elder Law

Elder Law includes a variety of practice areas, including any and all types of law that affect our elderly population, the fastest growing segment of Maine’s population.

Elder Law and Long-Term Care Planning

Elder Law is a part of the law that encompasses a variety of practice areas. Elder Law refers to any and all types of law that affect our elderly population, the fastest growing segment of the Maine population.

We assist clients with the following Elder Law issues:

Attorney Kathryn Bedell and her team help Maine families navigate these difficult decisions.

MaineCare and Deed Transfer Options

Many people think they are going to lose their home to the nursing home if they require long-term care. It doesn’t actually work that way.

In the state of Maine, if you need nursing home care and cannot afford it, the state will pay for your care if you have approximately $10,000 in assets (approximately $164,000 for a couple). This includes all your assets, even assets in a Revocable Trust or IRA.

If you own your house, it’s exempt (up to approximately $750,000 in equity). If you have more than this, the state will not pay for the costs of your long-term care until your assets reach these levels. You’ll have to pay for these costs on your own. Once you have spent down all your assets to the appropriate levels, the state will pay for your costs of care.


Qualifying for MaineCare

To qualify for MaineCare, the state will carefully audit your finances for a five-year period. If you have any transfers (e.g., gifts to children) during this five-year “look back” period, they will “penalize” you by adding that gift back to your asset tally. They will “claw back” all gifts during this time, including a $500 check to a child or the value of a house if the house was given away.

After the five-year period, these transfers are considered out of reach. However, if you go to the nursing home, incur a bill and then die, the state is able to attach a lien to your estate, which could include your home. They are keeping track of every penny they spend on you and when you accept money from the state to pay for your nursing home care you agree to pay them back!

The nursing home won’t take the title to your home while you’re alive. However, when you die the state will place a lien on your estate and your heirs (i.e., children) will have to pay off that lien (up to the value of your estate). Because you would not be eligible for MaineCare unless you only had your home as an asset, this lien is often paid at the time of the sale of the home.

People often come to us and say, “I want to give my house to my daughter so the nursing home won’t get it.” What they really mean is “I want to give my house to my daughter so MaineCare will not be able to take any of the proceeds from the sale of the home when I die.”

There are many ways to protect your home for family members, if that is your goal. 

Explore Options to Protect Your Home

Download our helpful guide that explains ways to give your house to your heirs. Topics include: joint tenancy, outright gifts, life leases, and irrevocable trusts.

Get the Guide

Questions about elder law or MaineCare?

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