Many Kentuckians will find themselves in a financial crunch as they approach retirement and old age. On the one hand, they will have worked hard to save up money that they hope to pass on to their loved ones.

On the other hand, they will not have enough to afford the cost of assisted living, even if they have purchased some long-term care coverage. The best option for them would be to go on the Medicaid program so they can afford the cost of a nursing home.

Medicaid is a federally funded healthcare program run through the states and meant for people who do not have the means to pay for their own care.

The income and asset requirements to qualify for Medicaid are strict. Most retirees would not meet Medicaid’s income and asset requirements until they spent their life savings, including anything they would have passed down to their loved ones, on their medical care.

Medicaid planning is the process through which a person organizes their affairs so they can qualify for the program while protecting at least some of their savings. The point is really a matter of fairness.

People should not be financially drained by paying for necessary medical care when they worked and saved, all the while supporting Medicaid by paying their taxes.

There are right and wrong ways to go about Medicaid planning

It is generally not a good idea to trust family and friends, nursing home professionals or even what staff in a Medicaid office say about planning.

How to go about legally planning to go on Medicaid while protecting assets involves many complicated laws and regulations. Detailed legal knowledge and years of professional experience dealing with Medicaid issues are important to get the job done right.

It is safe to say, though, that a person should not just try to pass off their assets to family members as gifts in the months before they qualify for Medicaid.

Doing this could subject them to a penalty period during which Medicaid would not pay for a nursing home stay.