Guardians in New Jersey may wonder if there’s anything they can do to help their loved one qualify for Medicaid in the future if or when their loved one is unable to make estate planning decisions for themselves.

The answer to this question is generally “yes”—but it’s important to know that Medicaid planning on behalf of an incapacitated loved one is complex, requires court approval, and should be started as early as possible. Because Medicaid access in New Jersey poses strict eligibility requirements and timelines, it isn’t unusual for individuals to be denied Medicaid access for the long-term care support they need.

If you serve as the guardian of an aging loved one, you want only the best possible care for their future. One aspect of this care is ensuring that they have access to public benefits such as Medicaid while also being able to maintain a high quality of life. Here’s how you can help.

Support your loved one in applying for Medicaid in New Jersey

The application process for Medicaid can feel exhausting for recipients and/or their guardians. It often feels like you’re endlessly jumping through hoops, remember this: understanding eligibility requirements can go a long way in de-stressing Medicaid applications.

To be eligible for Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), New Jersey residents must meet a number of important eligibility requirements. To access benefits through MLTSS, an individual must:

  • Require assistance with certain kinds of daily activities such as bathing, dressing, mobility, or feeding themselves
  • Be either 65 and older, blind, or disabled
  • Be a resident of New Jersey and a U.S. citizen or qualified alien
  • Be at or below specific asset and income thresholds.

This last point is significant because many individuals will be above the asset threshold to qualify for Medicaid support, even if paying for long-term care without these benefits would quickly exhaust their savings or negatively impact their ability to maintain their quality of living.

Be on the lookout for look-back penalties

Financial planning is part of maintaining income eligibility for Medicaid recipients. But when applying for Medicaid for a loved one, avoid simply giving away assets to meet requirements. This strategy is more likely to backfire and prevent Medicaid eligibility.

This is because Medicaid applications are subject to a “look-back” period. If it’s determined that funds have been transferred in the past five years to allow an individual to qualify for Medicaid, they’ll be penalized with a disqualification period.

An experienced Medicaid and elder law team can often help individuals above the asset and income threshold qualify for the Medicaid assistance they need, either by planning ahead to transfer assets before the look-back period or by making use of certain exceptions.

Create a detailed Medicaid plan

If you serve as the legal guardian for someone you love, you may wonder whether you can engage in Medicaid planning on their behalf. In New Jersey, the answer is generally “yes”—and it’s a significant way you can help your loved one qualify for Medicaid.

The best way to ensure Medicaid eligibility is to begin planning early, long before the need for Medicaid eligibility arises. But this may not always be possible, especially in the case of a loved one who has become incapacitated and can no longer make estate planning decisions for themselves.

NJ law and Medicaid planning by guardians

New Jersey law allows legal guardians to engage in Medicaid planning on behalf of their ward (the incapacitated individual for whom they’ve assumed guardianship). In 2004, the New Jersey Supreme Court held in the case In re Keri that “So long as the law allows competent persons to engage in Medicaid planning, incompetent persons, through their guardians, should have the same right.”

However, this right to engage in Medicaid planning is subject to certain limitations, and a legal guardian must still gain court approval before taking steps to preserve their loved one’s MLTSS eligibility through Medicaid planning strategies.

Get support from experienced Medicaid planning professionals

If you’re looking to help an incapacitated loved one access Medicaid benefits and feeling overwhelmed by the process, get support from an experienced Medicaid planning team. We can help you understand your options, what outcomes you might anticipate, and how to create a plan to secure Medicaid eligibility for your loved one.

We can also work with you to provide you with services including:

  • Medicaid application assistance
  • Medicaid review to identify potential eligibility concerns
  • Assistance with achieving eligibility through Medicaid Compliant Annuities (MCAs) or other methods
  • Strategic long-term care planning
  • Ongoing legal guidance as you navigate the Medicaid system

Get experienced, compassionate support for your loved one’s long-term care

At Goldberg Law Group, we help legal guardians navigate the challenges of caring for an aging loved one. Our experienced team can offer assistance with a wide range of potential hurdles, including issues with Medicaid applications and eligibility.

If you serve as a legal guardian for someone who needs long-term care, reach out to us today for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to guide you through your options for achieving the best possible care for your loved one.