Fred and Charlene Henrick grew up in Kansas City, Missouri following WW2, after Fred returned from the war. Their life following was one that resonates with the times. Fred took a job with Ford Motor Company at the Claycomo Plant when they opened in 1951. Charlene was a math tutor for high schoolers, working out of their house and soon would be raising three children. After 35 years, when the kids were all grown and had moved away, the Henricks decided to move out to the “country”, to Olathe, Kansas.
Well, a lot has changed in Olathe since then and the same would be true for the Henricks. Soon after moving to Olathe, one of their daughters, Aubrey, moved back from Texas, so the grandchildren could be closer to Grandma and Grandpa.
After leaving Ford and moving out to Olathe, Fred continued to work part-time with a local mechanic and Charlene continued to tutor math, although often for younger children like her grandkids. The Henricks' hope was that these finances would be enough to pay for retirement and leave a little legacy for their children, like their home Aubrey was already taking care of all by herself. Having Aubrey down the street wasn’t just good for “free” babysitting and keeping the home safe for her parents, because as time went on, Aubrey was also beginning to spend more time taking care of Fred.
Eventually, Fred’s physical health started to decline faster, while his dementia also seemed to be getting worse. It came time that Charlene and Aubrey could no longer safely care for Fred and they began looking for home health or Skilled Nursing solutions. When discovering the costs of Skilled Nursing, they quickly realized that their finances would not even allow Fred to reside in a community for much over one year and after that they believed they would have to sell their home, which would be all that was left of 65 years of being together. Even though Fred is 93, they were hopeful he would live much longer than a year, so they reached out to a friend who had assisted in moving both of her parents into a local Nursing Home.
Hearing the wonderful family stories of the Henricks is one of the benefits of practicing Estate Planning and Elder Law. However, many families we talk to don’t consider estate planning soon enough to be prepared for long-term care when they need it. And, this often changes good stories into bad. Thankfully, with the proper guidance, waiting until later or when the need arises in life doesn’t mean it’s too late.
After reviewing the Henricks case, they looked to be in good position for applying for Medicaid. This process is fairly straightforward, if you know the hoops to jump through and are prepared to handle continued correspondence with KanCare. Anyone who has filed for Medicaid knows that inevitably, the process is tedious and requires a lot of patience.
Although these rules seem to be a bit fluid at times, one can usually know which part of the application will raise concerns with KanCare, so it is best to be prepared before this happens. To KanCare’s credit, their concerns are almost always valid, given the high level of fraud they must deal with and being stewards of government funds.
When KanCare approved Fred for nursing home benefits, he was assessed a patient obligation to the nursing home. This obligation was basically Fred’s social security and pension income, less a monthly needs allowance. Although we were pleased to see that Fred was approved for Medicaid, we questioned why none of his income had been allocated to Charlene. After further communication with KanCare, it was determined that Charlene would receive a portion of Fred’s income to help her pay her own shelter expenses. The ultimate result is that Fred’s monthly out of pocket cost of care was $650.
More Nursing Homes are beginning to accept Medicaid as payment for care. However, many do not accept residents unless they are already approved or have hired an Elder Law attorney for help.
Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. have been assisting families and seniors with Medicaid Planning and Long-Term Care Planning in Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Counsel with Proactive Solutions. Give us a call today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website berger-lawfirm.com or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.