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Medicaid bills may become responsibility of your estate

Long-term care and estate planning can be confusing and somewhat scary for aging Clark County residents. Understanding what the future holds in terms of paying for healthcare for yourself and providing an inheritance for those you love can ease those qualms. For some, trusts are a way to protect assets against end-of-life creditors or issues, but new healthcare laws may represent a new worry for estate planning.

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, services covered by Medicaid will be reimbursable to states through liens. This expansion can be implemented at states' discretion, but the intent of the provision is to discourage the free long-term health insurance idea on the part of people who are otherwise hiding assets.

Because each state can set its own threshold for income cut-off, many more people will qualify under the Medicaid expansion. Experts anticipate that most won't realize that their heirs may be held liable for their end-of-life health care costs through estate probate. Because a lot of assets are excluded from the income calculation, a financially well-off person may still qualify for Medicaid under the new law. Also, each state will manage its own reimbursement policies. Reports are that many, in fact, are backtracking some of the discretionary rules due to consumer input.

People who have carefully evaluated their personal situation, with a valid will and effective estate planning in place, should not be affected to any great degree according to a Manhattan Institute fellow. What this one aspect of The Affordable Care Act shows, however, is that it is very important for individuals to gain a clear understanding of all the new laws and requirements that may impact their estates.

Source: Newsmax.com, "Obamacare Time Bomb: Heirs May Face Bill for Your Healthcare" Jennifer G. Hickey, Jan. 15, 2014

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