Friendly Elder Law & Estate Planning Services

5 (Costly) Medicaid Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.”

The Medicaid program, although challenging to navigate, can provide some relief for seniors and their families when in need of long-term care. Unlike Medicare (which does not cover long-term care), Medicaid is a means-tested program. In other words, you can only possess a small amount of money or property, have a low income, or both qualify. Seniors often wish to preserve their money out of habit or with the intention of passing it on to their families, but Medicaid eligibility requirements largely prohibit both these things.

Whether you have just started to plan for future long-term care, or you are just now thinking about it, avoid these costly Medicaid mistakes.

5 Costly Medicaid Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. Failing to Plan

Most people do not consider the possible need for long term care at a time when they are healthy and young. However, pre-planning is the surest way to avoid the possibility of losing a lifetime of savings to the costs of long-term care.

To qualify for Medicaid, you must meet the eligibility requirements at the time of your application. Many people incorrectly believe that they must protect assets before the look back period, but this is incorrect. Medicaid has a five year “look-back period” which often comes as a surprise. Having a plan in place now ensure you will meet all requirements during the look-back period and be eligible.

$45,000: the average annual cost for a senior to be in an assisted living facility. Depending on your family’s priorities, how your assets are held and how much is needed to preserve, a qualified Medicaid Planning Attorney can help you to qualify for government benefits while protecting your estate.

  1. Not Knowing All Your Options

Although it is preferable to plan ahead while care physically and mentally healthy, it is never too late to prepare. 1/3 senior citizens will enter a nursing home this year. While some pre-planning can occur five years before needing nursing home Medicaid, there are still many options even after you or a loved one has moved into a nursing home. Do not wait until your assets are completely depleted before seeking help.

  1. Transferring Assets To Qualify For Medicaid

Many people wrongfully assume that they can gift their assets to family members to qualify for Medicaid without penalty. However, Medicaid often classifies these gifts as uncompensated transfers. This can result in difficult tax problems and can create Medicaid ineligibility for an extended period of time. Proper planning can avoid being penalized.

  1. Applying For Medicaid Too Early or Late

The timing of a Medicaid application is crucial. If your intentions are for your life-savings to be used for your long-term care needs, you can spend down such savings on your nursing home costs and become impoverished. You will be eligible as soon as your assets are depleted. The average cost to stay in a US nursing home for one year: $76,680 However, if your intentions are for your life-savings to be used to protect your stay at home spouse, yourself or other family members, proper planning must take place and transfers or spend downs must be done before an application can be filed.

  1. Not Getting Expert Help

Qualifying for Medicaid is tricky, and a competent Elder Law professional should be consulted before making applying. Considering the monthly cost care ranges from $5,000 to the $10,000+ each month and there is a lot at stake.

Contact a Medicaid Lawyer At Evergreen Elder Law Today

At Evergreen Elder Law, we provide a holistic and team-centered approach to estate planning and asset protection to help Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho seniors secure their financial future. Our goal is to help you put a flexible, thoughtful plan in place that protects as much of your hard-earned assets as possible. Because one of the hardest parts of long-term care planning is just getting started, we would encourage you to schedule a free consultation to learn all of your options and to avoid making common Medicaid mistakes. Contact us today.


Put your case in our experienced hands. Get started now.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our Practice Areas

Wills and Trusts


Estate Planning




Medicaid and Long Term Care Planning


Special Needs Planning


VA Benefits-Pension Aid and Attendance



I did some research and exploration and came upon the offices of Evergreen Elder Law. From the moment I spoke with the receptionist I felt respected, valued and regarded as an important client. I made an appointment for March 20, 2018. When I presented to their offices I spoke with someone who was sympathetic for my loss, confident that their offices could help and exuded competence. I was heartened to note that they were recognized as “Client Choice “Estate Law Office” for 2016.” And my experience with their offices made me a believer.


When my mother retired it became apparent we as a family needed help, Holland Mcburns was recommended by an acquaintance of the family. She was professional and very thorough and informative. I felt she was very up to date on the current opportunities that would best benefit my elderly mother, and make her retirement years worry free. After working with Mrs Mcburns, it was apparent that many people would benefit from her knowledge and dedication. I highly recommend her, and look forward to working with her on my estate planning.


Holland is very attentive and detail oriented. I felt well cared for, she returned calls promptly, and was always very sensitive to my needs. Holland gave me very good advice. She is very ethical and has legal services personalized to your needs.


Holland is a great listener and lawyer. When we came to her with our needs, she thoughtfully listened, was helpful with all our questions, and then explained our options. Her sense of humor helped us through some long waits with the system. In the end, we ended up with a surprisingly favorable settlement and a good friend in the courts.


Holland is truly one of the most sincere and professional attorneys I have come to know and over many years in the legal field. Her work is innovative in the complex area of estate planning and she strives to know the latest legal strategies to protect and represent her clients. Holland is dedicated to satisfying her clients’ needs and does it in a kind manner. She is a wonderful communicator both with her clients and with her colleagues. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of legal services.


View our reviews online.

Google Reviews Logo
Avvo Reviews Logo - Holland Ilene McBurns - 5/5 Stars
Facebook Reviews Logo















Don headshot








Legal Assistant

The Evergreen Elder Law Team

Evergreen Elder Law is committed to helping you create comprehensive legal, financial, and physical security for you and your loved ones. Serving the Spokane, Tri Cities and Coeur d’Alene regions, we have the knowledge, compassion and professionalism to guide you in planning for the future, giving you peace of mind as you or a loved one makes important decisions for your family and future.

Let us provide you with a free 60-minute consultation. We are available throughout the week by phone and e-mail. Contact us now to set up the initial consultation, and we will make meeting with us easy. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you to come up with the best plan to meet your needs. We are available in-person or via tele-conference.

Do you need support with Estate Planning & Elder Law?

Our attorneys at Evergreen Elder Law are ready to stand by you over the long term and work hard to protect your interests. Contact us to get started!