The Elderlaw Firm - Dennis Toman - Headshot Dennis Toman

Dennis Toman founded The Elderlaw Firm with a mission of helping families better prepare for elder care and other legal issues for the second half of life. Contact him at 336-396-8988.

Maybe someone you love is not in good health. Perhaps that’s your spouse, or your parent, or another loved one. If they will need nursing home care, beware of the dangers of filing a Medicaid application yourself without any idea of how the Medicaid rules work.

I’ve written before about how Medicaid’s hidden pitfalls can be costly. Lately we’ve seen a rash of cases where people filed their own Medicaid application and then were denied. Then they have to scramble to pay the nursing home bill.

Even worse is when someone comes in and tells me someone told them to spend all of their parent’s money on care first, before applying. Or when the healthy spouse goes to the Medicaid office and is told “Spend half of your savings, and then come back. Your ill spouse might qualify for help then.” That’s so sad, because the person is likely to be out of money and out of options at one of the most frail and vulnerable times of their life … and it doesn’t have to be that way. Ouch!

You can’t walk into the Medicaid office, innocently hand them all your documents and say, “Please give me Medicaid for (fill in blank: me/my spouse/my parent).” You’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to know what’s in those documents and be ready to respond to the inevitable questions.

It’s like an IRS tax audit. You’d be crazy to walk into the auditor’s office without a professional. Same thing with Medicaid. The stakes are just too high.

Often there are strategies to save tens or even hundreds of thousands of hard-earned savings before you file for Medicaid … but families never hear about them. And it’s not the Medicaid office’s job to tell them.

You should plan to get help from caring, capable professionals, to guide you through the Medicaid application process. If there are assets to protect, don’t go to the Medicaid office alone.

The Elderlaw Firm has made it easy and free to set up a North Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney! This is our gift, as a service to our community. Fill out the form at and receive a Free North Carolina HCPOA and HIPAA Authorization within a couple days.