Elder Law

Medicaid Program – Partial Repeal of Wisconsin Act 20

As of December 2013, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted a partial repeal of Wisconsin Act 20. The partial repeal is contained in Wisconsin Act 92, which adopts a modified version of the Uniform Trust Code and was enacted on December 13, 2013. In general, changes were aimed at allowing the State broader authority to recover funds paid on behalf of long-term care Medicaid recipients.

Medicaid and Long-Term Care Planning – Important Changes

Wisconsin’s 2013-2015 Budget passed as Wisconsin Act 20 on June 30, 2013 and was published on July 1, 2013. The new law contains sweeping changes to certain aspects of the Medicaid program for individuals who need long-term care. Many questions have been raised, not only about the content of the new law and its effect on individuals who will become eligible for Medicaid benefits in the future, but also about the effective date of the changes, and whether the new law will affect those individuals who are already receiving benefits or who have already used planning techniques that were allowed under the old law. Part of the confusion stems from a delay in the actual implementation of the changes.

Elder Abuse and The Law

Abuse of the elderly often goes unreported. Many victims do not think of elder abuse as a crime, and for those who do, they may not be in a position to advocate for themselves due to infirmities of aging. Sometimes the perpetrator is a family member or caregiver, leaving the elderly victim worried that they will be unable to care for themselves if they report the abuse.

Elder abuse can affect people of all backgrounds and social status and can affect both men and women. The following are common categories of elder mistreatment:

• Physical Abuse – Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.

Medicaid Myths and Truths

Many people want to know when Medicaid will cover nursing home costs, which can cost over $70,000 a year or more for skilled care. Medicare only covers a small amount of the cost of nursing home care in limited circumstances. Below are some common “myths” about Medicaid eligibility.

Myth: You have to give away everything you own in order to qualify for Medicaid.

Truth: If you need nursing home care for other than a short-term rehabilitative stay, you will be expected to pay the private pay rate unless your assets are below a certain threshold as follows:

Legal Capacity in Elder Law

The term ‘legal capacity’ is heard often in a variety of legal situations, usually to define someone who is able to understand and appreciate the consequences of his or her actions. A person who lacks legal capacity cannot, for example, enter into a contract, give a power of attorney, make a Will, consent to medical treatment, or transfer property. The older we become, the more likely we are to suffer from a mental disease or disability that can diminish decision-making capacity. Fortunately, we can delegate an alternate decision maker by executing powers of attorney for finances and health care. In order to execute such documents, however, one must do so before they become incapacitated.

Unfortunately, there is no standardized procedure or test that will determine whether a given person has legal capacity. Such a determination must be made on a case-by-case basis, weighing all of the facts and circumstances. Proper execution of a legal document requires that the person have the mental “capacity” to understand the implications of the document.

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