Q: Can I avoid probate?
A: Yes! But first, probate refers to the process of settling a decedent’s debts and legal title to property held in the decedent’s name solely and not otherwise distributed via beneficiary designation, trust or operation of law.
They are several mechanisms that can be employed to avoid probate. First, title to property can be held jointly, thereby, vesting title to real and personal property to the surviving joint owner.
Second, beneficiary designations can be used to name beneficiaries for bank accounts, insurance policies and the like. Finally, property can be held in a trust, revocable or irrevocable.
If there’s a will, and any property is subject to probate, the probate process begins when the personal representative, named in the will, presents the will for probate to the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent lived or owned property.
If there’s no will, an interested person (surviving spouse, child, parent, etc.) petitions the Register of Wills to be appointed personal representative of the estate. Once appointed, the personal representative becomes the legal representative of the estate.
Q: Will Medicare pay for my parents’ nursing home care?
A: No! Medicare is general medical health insurance for seniors over the age of 65 and people with disabilities. Its coverage is limited to hospital care, physician care, hospice, home health care and short-term skilled nursing home care or rehabilitation. It does not pay for long-term care in a nursing home. When Medicare will no longer pay, and there’s no long-term care insurance, applying for long-term care Medicaid or Medical Assistance, as the program is known in Maryland, is an option.