How can you plan for long term care?

Wisconsin and Illinois Medicaid Crisis Planning:
Protecting Family Assets from High Nursing Home and Assisted Living Costs

Serving Clients in Madison, WI, Rockford, IL, and the Surrounding Area

Sudden Changes and Big Decisions

Change is life’s only constant. Sometimes these changes strike without warning. If you or a loved one has experienced a sudden illness or serious accident, you understand how abruptly everything can change. Are you or a loved one suddenly in need of nursing home or assisted living care? Finding and affording quality care on short notice can be stressful and draining. We can help you determine the best options for care and how to qualify for Medicaid to help finance them.

Long-term Care: Counting the Cost

Long-term care is expensive, and these costs only continue to increase as baby boomers age. Although the range varies depending on where you live, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Study for 2018, the national median annual cost of a private nursing home room is $100,375 with a 4% annual increase projected. With improved medical care, the average life span of adults also is increasing; this translates into more years of care at increasingly higher rates. Without some sort of financial assistance, these costs could be financially devastating. In fact, your entire life savings could be quickly depleted within a few years of needing long-term care. This is where Medicaid can help.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program to assist those with low income and limited resources. While Medicare provides very limited long-term care coverage, Medicaid is much more extensive. However, because of its restrictions, qualifying for Medicaid can be extremely difficult. But paying for a nursing home without it could be all but impossible.

The Medicaid Maze

Although Medicaid requirements vary from state to state, they all share one common element: complexity. Each state specifies a maximum allowed income for individuals and couples in order to qualify for Medicaid. Also, the applicant’s total assets cannot exceed a specified amount called the Individual Resource Allowance, which is consistently very low; in Wisconsin it is $2,000*. Although certain possessions, like your home and automobile, are “exempted” for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility, this figure is still alarming. If the applicant is married, the process becomes more complicated. For the recipient to qualify for Medicaid in any state, the applicant’s spouse can keep only half the couple’s assets up to a Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance of $123,600. So, if a couple has $202,000 in assets, they must “spend down” to all but $2,000 for the applicant and the other spouse is allowed to keep $100,000, which is half of the amount they began with, but less than the maximum of $123,600. The rest must be spent on health care or other expenses of the couple.

What can you do if the value of your “non-exempt” assets exceeds $247,200, which is double the Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance? If you give your extra assets away, which seems like an obvious choice, you will encounter greater problems. Violating this “Transfer Penalty Rule” could disqualify you from receiving Medicaid for months or years, depending on how much you gave away.

If your need for nursing home care is immediate, time is not something you can afford to lose. The sooner you plan, the more assets you can potentially save for you or your family.

The Medicaid Qualification Process = Legally Protecting the Maximum Amount the Law Allows.

This is only a brief and oversimplified review of a few Medicaid rules, of which there are myriad more. Navigating them on your own could be a nightmare at best and subject you to poverty and penalties at worst. Fortunately, though, our experienced professionals can guide you through the Medicaid maze. We can advise you throughout the application process, ensuring that you retain the maximum income and total assets allowed by law.


Seek appropriate counsel early, while you are healthy and long before you may need nursing home care. If you have not planned early, then consult an Elder Law attorney as soon as you or a loved believe that you may need to enter assisted living or a nursing home, and before you apply for and seek to qualify for Medicaid. We can give you – and your family – peace of mind during a difficult and uncertain time. When dealing with Medicaid, legal advice is something you cannot afford to go without.

* The Individual Resource Amount varies from state to state.

** Since these amounts (e.g., the “Community Spouse Resource Allowance,” etc.) are adjusted annually, these numbers may vary slightly depending on when the most recent figures are released.

We Can Help

Photo: Nelson Donovan; Read Nelson Donovan's bio
Partner, Attorney & Author
Nelson Donovan
Photo: Daniel Krause; Read Daniel Krause's bio
Partner, Attorney & Author
Dan Krause
Danielle L. Burza-Smith: Attorney at Law
Danielle Burza-Smith

We just take care of things.

Our unique process keeps you informed and in control of your medicaid plan.

Our Elder Law Attorneys help you:

  • Plan for long-term care
  • Plan for nursing home costs
  • Make sure your loved one gets the care they deserve
  • Preserve your hard earned assets
  • Even if your loved one is already in the nursing home

Our Mission Statement

We at Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC focus solely in the areas of Planning and Administering Estates. We are a team of accomplished, highly motivated attorneys and staff dedicated to providing our clients with the highest quality legal services.

We are committed to our clients’ needs and to the success and development of our employees. Our estate planning lawyers consider our clients as part of our family, and in that spirit, we strive to be fair, honest, courteous and professional in all of our endeavors. Our strengths are our expertise, our willingness to listen, our integrity, and our willingness to improve our awareness, knowledge, skills, and resilience. We pledge to work at all times in furtherance of our clients’ best interests as well as the best interests of our employees and to do this with the utmost integrity and respect.