Advanced planning can help preserve your assets for your spouse and family and help ensure that you received any government benefits to which you are entitled under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Planning could include a program of gifting and spending down as well as appropriate estate planning, especially in the case of married couples. However, gifting must be done with a full understanding of the risks and consequences. If assets are transferred to your children, those assets then belong to them and are subject to any creditor or divorce issues they may have. Also, some gifting results in a penalty period, a period of ineligibility for Medicaid, while other gifts do not. Thus, the timing for the initial application for Medicaid is very important in order to minimize the penalty period. It is best to consult with an attorney who can advise you on various Medicaid planning issues such as gifting strategies, exempt transfers, how to preserve the marital residence, and the use of trusts and estate planning. This should be done as early as possible to obtain the best results of your planning.