Medicaid is a government program that pays for nursing home care. The recipient (often elderly) must have limited income and assets to qualify for the benefit.
Planning and applying for Medicaid can be complicated. Thus, a cottage industry of “Medicaid planners” has sprung up.
And that is where the difficulty arises. A lawyer can legally advertise and charge for Medicaid planning services. For everyone else, it’s a crime.
There is a reason for the requirement that services be offered only by attorneys. Medicaid planning is intricate. The strategies used are usually irreversible. Bad advice can literally ruin an elder’s life.
It is incredibly easy to make mistakes in this area. Unfortunately, most elders who receive the bad advice will never be able to recoup their losses.
A non-lawyer who charges a fee for representing or aiding an applicant or a recipient for Medicaid is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. In fact, even advertising or soliciting by a non-lawyer is criminal. See Texas Human Resources Code Section 12.001.
In case you are wondering, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by jail and a fine.
How do you tell the good guys from the bad? Just remember, the adviser must be a licensed attorney. Beware of people who advertise that they “work with attorneys,” or mask the advice by offering it in conjunction with the sale of annuities, insurance or investment services. Be very wary of advisers who are referred to you by nursing home employees or who you find on a general web search.
Which brings us to another thought – wouldn’t those people who referred the non-lawyer planner also be guilty of a criminal conspiracy? Something to ponder.
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.