Far too many people put off important long-term care planning tasks until the last minute. It is unquestionably unpleasant to have to consider not only the potential for your future death but also the health decline that often comes with advanced age.

It is a common practice for adults to wait until they suspect that they will need long-term care to begin planning for such an eventuality. The longer you wait to plan, the more vulnerable your financial circumstances because.

Even if you have no reason to currently suspect you will require Medicaid as you age, it is usually in your best interest to begin planning to qualify for Medicaid as soon as possible.

Medicaid restricts who can receive benefits

Many people have a hard time grasping the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a government health insurance program intended to protect retirees and adults over a certain age. However, Medicare has limits in what it will cover.

Skilled nursing services, inpatient care at a nursing home facility and other forms of long-term care are typically not covered for those with Medicare benefits. Medicaid, on the other hand, is an income-based government insurance program that will cover the more significant costs associated with nursing homes and other facilities. However, in order to qualify when you apply for Medicaid, your total assets and income must be below a certain level.

You can’t just move funds into a trust or transfer property to your loved ones in the weeks before you apply for Medicaid. The government will look back over five years of financial records to determine whether you have attempted to hide assets prior to your application.

In other words, you need to begin planning for your long-term care needs at least five years before you think you will need those benefits. Otherwise, you will incur a penalty that requires you to pay out-of-pocket any financial amounts above the limits at the time of your application, or that you transferred or gave away within five years of your application.