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Walt Shurden Elder Law

When life Hands You Lemons...

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Greg moved from Boston to Clearwater to share an apartment with a cousin. He was a 50 year old Viet Nam vet suffering from Multiple Scleroses. Greg ended up in a nursing center when his health declined. He was told he could not live safely anywhere else.

Greg didn’t give up. He still wanted two things. First, He wanted to get out of the nursing home and live independently. After all he was only 50. And secondly, Greg wanted to do something for his son that he had never known.

I agreed to be Greg’s power of attorney after it became clear that none of Greg’s family was available to serve. We set out to protect Greg’s assets and get Medicaid to help pay for his $7,000 nursing care.   

We transferred Greg’s $50,000 401k to an irrevocable trust that was exempt for Medicaid. We also reduced the cash value of Greg’s $80,000 whole life insurance policy through a policy loan and added the cash to the exempt trust. Ownership of the life insurance policy was transferred to a new irrevocable life insurance trust that would one day benefit his son. Greg was approved for Medicaid.

Over the next 7 years Greg lived in two different nursing homes. If we had not set up the irrevocable trust Greg would only have had $35 each month to spend. But because we set up the Medicaid exempt trust we were able to order and pay for the following:

  1. Swim therapy at the Long Center in Clearwater
  2. Special Swim Trunks
  3. Medical transport to the Long Center
  4. Daily visits from a private nurse and companion, (he fell in love with nurses regularly)
  5. Custom wheelchair with numerous modifications to hold his neck upright as the MS contorted his body
  6. State of the art technology to let Greg control his environment,
  7. Many Arby’s dinners
  8. Many Pizza deliveries
  9. Numerous pairs of glasses
  10. New clothes and shoes
  11. A lot of soda
  12. Life insurance premium payments!

At Greg’s death we again inquired about his son. At first it was the same story – no one knew where he was. But then a friend told the young man that they had read an obituary and it sounded like it could be his father. His son reached out to Greg’s family and learned that it was his father who had passed. Sad news. But then some better news. The son learned his father had been thinking and planning for him. He learned that even though his father had been suffering from MS and living in a nursing home, at a cost of $8,000 a month for years, he had found a way to protect $80,000 in a trust for him.

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