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Elder Law, Nursing Home Protection & Medicaid Planning


Sioux Falls Medicaid Lawyers and Asset Protection Attorneys

Protecting Your Home and Life Savings

Our experienced elder law attorneys specialize in providing comprehensive legal services tailored to the unique needs of seniors. As leading South Dakota elder law attorneys, we understand the complexities of elder care and we are dedicated to protecting your interests.

Americans are experiencing longer lifespans, leading to an increased need for long-term care. This type of care can be financially burdensome, making elder law a crucial area of focus. Elder law encompasses various practice areas, including long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, estate planning, and asset protection. Our South Dakota elder law attorneys possess extensive expertise in these realms, dedicated to assisting seniors and their families navigate the complexities of aging.

Asset protection planning emerges as a pivotal aspect of elder law. Preserving assets safeguards individuals against financial depletion due to long-term care expenses, providing them with valuable options. Protecting assets is particularly vital for spouses, as nursing home costs can often lead to financial strain for the remaining partner. Even if a loved one is already in a nursing home, asset protection planning remains feasible. Our team includes South Dakota's only board-certified Elder Law Attorney recognized by the National Elder Law Foundation, an accreditation endorsed by the American Bar Association. We possess comprehensive knowledge in tax planning, asset protection, Medicaid and VA regulations, and estate planning, enabling us to craft holistic plans tailored to each family's needs.

A qualified elder law attorney must excel in Medicaid planning. Contrary to common misconceptions, spending down assets or navigating Medicaid's five-year look back period aren't the only options available. Our Sioux Falls elder law attorneys specialize in Medicaid planning and recovery, offering guidance and solutions tailored to individual circumstances. While based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we extend our services statewide and we are honored to serve clients in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota as well.


Medicaid Protection

One of the primary goals of elder law is to help seniors find ways to pay for expensive long-term care. We don’t want to alarm you, but consider the following statistics:

  • Nearly three out of every four people over the age of 65 will require long-term care at some point in their lives.
  • The median cost of nursing home care in South Dakota for a private room was an average of $100,000 a year for our area. In certain situations, nursing home care costs considerably more, and costs are expected to rise dramatically in the future.
  • Many families exhaust their life savings within a year or two of a family member entering a nursing home.
  • Statistics don't matter when something happens to you or your loved one. Contact our Sioux Falls elder law and Medicaid planning attorneys today to visit.

Why Choose Our Elder Law Attorneys?

Navigating elder law can be challenging. Our elder law attorneys offer personalized assistance with asset protection planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, and more. Trust our South Dakota elder law attorneys to guide you through every step, ensuring peace of mind for you and your family.

Common Questions About Elder Law

Can I give away assets to protect against nursing home costs before I get sick? 

There is usually no way of knowing when a health issue will strike, but giving gifts to family five years in advance cannot be looked at for Medicaid qualification. That being said, we do not recommend giving away assets to family to protect from the nursing home. Often this has serious tax implications. Additionally, if a child goes through a divorce they could lose what they meant to hold onto for your benefit, or if a child squanders what you gave them, it is gone. Impoverishing yourself by legally giving away your assets is almost never in your best interest. Instead, there are other options to protect your assets from the nursing home without giving things away and losing control. 

Does Medicare pay for nursing home costs?

Medicare does not cover long-term costs of services in a nursing home. Medicare is health insurance and at most would cover a percentage of your costs, up to 100 days in a long-term care if health services were being provided, such as rehab.  Medicaid is the government benefit that will pay for long-term care. In order to qualify for long-term care Medicaid coverage, the individual applying can only have assets of less than $2,000 dollars and meet income requirements.

What can I do to prevent becoming poor and going broke due to high costs of nursing home care? 

Asset protection planning is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you don’t go broke from long-term care costs.  Protecting your financial security means that you will have options on care, where your money goes when you die, and helps keep your dignity by making sure you have money for a private room or money to take care of dental or eye procedures that might not covered by Medicaid.

What should I do if my spouse is going into an nursing home and I’m worried about going broke?

 The government calls the spouse that is not needing long-term care and still living in the community the “community spouse.”  As the community spouse, you are allowed to keep a certain amount of assets to live off of, however, this amount isn’t much.  Our Sioux Falls elder law attorneys can help you protect assets so you don’t have to spend down.  We can speed up eligibility and get your spouse in the nursing home or going to the nursing home qualified for Medicaid and preserve your assets so you have assets to live off of and not go broke. 

Can a nursing home take your house?  

No, a nursing home cannot simply take your house.  However, the state can place a lien against your home if you have a Medicaid debt to the State.  This is part of the process call estate recovery.  If a person is on Medicaid, once they die, then the State can come back and use any remaining assets to reimburse itself for what it paid out in Medicaid assistance. 

What assets are exempt from Medicaid?  

The most common exemptions are the home if there is an intent to return home or a spouse still living in the home, an irrevocable funeral contract up to a certain dollar amount, life insurance if it has $1,500 or less in cash value, a vehicle, and household or personal items.  

Does my trust protect from Medicaid?  

A revocable living trust does not protect against Medicaid.  In order for a trust to protect from the nursing home, the trust must be an irrevocable trust.  However, not only does the trust need to be irrevocable, the trust must also be designed to meet both Federal and State laws for it to be protected and not a countable resource by DSS.  Often trusts do not meet these strict requirements.  If you have run into trouble with a trust not getting approved when you apply for Medicaid, contact our Sioux Falls elder law attorneys to help.  There are legal techniques that we can use to help get you qualified for Medicaid and protect assets.

Do I need to spend down to qualify for Medicaid?

You do not need to spend down to get qualified for Medicaid if you get asset protection help from our Sioux Falls elder law attorneys.  We recommend preserving assets for yourself to ensure you get the care you need without going broke.  

Should I get an annuity?  

Before you stick your money into an irrevocable annuity, you should make sure it is going to protect from the nursing home and also take care of the family.  Often we see people get stuck with an annuity that is irrevocable and they can’t make any changes to it.  The State must be named as the primary beneficiary of an annuity in order to qualify for Medicaid.  Often a spouse might not get the money back fast enough in case they want or need more money than what was originally setup and they can’t later make changes, or maybe they need long-term care and then it wasn’t protected for long-term care and now must just be spent down.  In some situations an annuity may work great, but in a lot of situations an annuity is not the best choice for the spouse and family.  Before you enter into an irrevocable annuity, visit with our board-certified elder law attorney to make sure you get all the information before getting locked into it, after all, it’s irrevocable.  

I didn’t plan 5 years in advance, is it too late?  

It is not too late to do asset protection planning.  Even if you or your loved one are in a nursing home, our Sioux Falls asset protection attorneys can help.  

We Offer

  • Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
  • Veterans Asset Protection Trusts 
  • Care Agreements 
  • Asset Protection Plans
  • Medicaid Compliant Planning 
  • Benefits Planning 
  • Spend-Down Avoidance Plans


  • Medicaid Applications 
  • Qualified Income Trusts/Miller Trusts
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Promissory Notes
  • Special Needs Planning 
  • Powers of Attorneys for Seniors 
  • Estate Planning for Seniors 

Our Sioux Falls elder care lawyers help clients so they don't go broke in nursing homes. Whether you are looking for a Medical Assistance lawyer in Minnesota, a Medicaid lawyer in Iowa, or a South Dakota Medicaid lawyer, we can help.

Don't wait.


Locations We Serve

Legacy Law Firm offers legal services in estate planning, asset protection, elder law and trusts to individuals and businesses throughout the Midwest. We currently practice in these states:

  • South Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota

Related Expertise


Tax & Asset Protections Planning


Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney


Special Needs Planning


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