How to Grow Your Elder Law Practice with Medicaid – Expert Interview with Tom Krause

For this month’s expert interview, we spoke with Tom Krause, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Krause Financial Services.

Tom travels all over the country to teach elder law attorneys crisis Medicaid planning strategies for their senior clients. He often hosts the company’s national KrauseCAST webinar series, which focuses on providing the knowledge and resources needed to be successful in the industry.

We are big fans of Tom and of the work that he does for elder law attorneys. He not only took the time to interview with us, but he has gone a step further in giving us a special giveaway for our readers to include in their presentations.

Click the link below to download his powerpoint presentation to use in your next workshop now:
Tom Krause Powerpoint Presentation on Medicaid Planning

You can learn more about Tom and his work at Krause Financial services by visiting his website here.

How to Grow Your Elder Law Practice with Medicaid – Expert Interview Video with Tom Krause

Video transcript as follows:

Jim: All right, I’ve got Tom here right now, Tom Krause from Krause Financial. He’s the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and we wanted to go over a little bit about what Krause Financial does, how they help elder law attorneys and how they can help grow your practice. So, thanks for joining us, Tom.

Tom: Thanks Jim. I appreciate you having me today.

Jim: Well, I wanted to jump right in on some of these questions that we have. I know that a lot of people have probably seen Krause Financial at different events they go to around the country. Maybe they have some personal experience with your company but there’s a lot of elder law attorneys out there that might not even know who you are and what you do, so the goal of this is just really telling them about what you do, how you help elder law attorneys and then how working with Krause Financial can actually grow their practice. Our clients are doing a lot of marketing for their firm, but the overall goal is going to be for them to grow their practice, increase their revenues and one of the questions I’d like to find out is when an elder law attorney starts working with Krause Financial, how does life at their firm improve?

Tom: Well, Jim, just to kind of give you a little bit of background about our company for those of you who don’t know, we’re in the Medicaid Compliant Annuityspace. We work with elder law attorneys and estate planning attorneys throughout the country, and what we do is we’re kind of the back office for their crisis Medicaid planning cases. The Medicaid Annuity is really designed as a spend-downtool to take the client who is over the asset limitations for the Medicaid program, and we could accelerate their eligibility so they can gain financial relief from the hardship of the nursing home cost. So when an attorney works with our office, they have the ability to work with our entire team. Since we’ve been in this space for so long, we know the ins and outs of crisis planning, especially as it relates to the annuity product. So our real goal is to make the attorney’s life as easy as possible so they can go out and focus on finding more clients and streamline their current operation with the Medicaid Compliant Annuity and utilize in our staff as kind of their back office for this type of planning.

Jim: Yeah, yeah. Tell us a little bit more about the Medicaid Compliant Annuity, and kind of what differentiates yours versus the competition out there.

Tom: Sure. Well our Medicaid Compliant Annuities, we have them from a host of carriers. We actually developed some of the first products that were utilized on a large scale by attorneys, so we’re working with an insurance company who’s been in this space the longest. We work with insurance companies that are rated A+. So we work with an array of insurance companies. We have exclusive products that we developed and designed, and they’re really designed to work with the Medicaid program, the rules related to the Medicaid program which currently is a deficit reduction after 2005. So there are five key requirements that these annuities have to have to meet those requirements to work as a spend-down tool. First is to be irrevocable, that has to be non-assignable, that has to be actually sound, has to provide equal payments, and then finally we have to name the status beneficiary in most cases. So most annuity products on the market that you’ll see, you know, a standard broker selling, you’ll not have a product that meets all those strict requirements.

Jim: Gotcha. Now a lot of the attorneys that we’re working with they’re super busy, right? So there might be a small or they’re a solo practice. And they have their hands in many different buckets, right? So when they’re working with you, does their life, is it easier, or is there a lot of handholding? Like what can they expect as far as like the process goes, explain that for us.

Tom: Sure, well, we’re really willing to assist an attorney in whatever means they need. So we have some attorneys who are just starting out in this practice, who really do need that handholding. So we’ll walk them through the entire process, the spend-down analysis. We’ll do that all at no cost to the attorney. We’ll walk them through, kind of provide them the background of the rules in their particular state. Aside from myself, two other in-house attorneys who are constantly researching the rules, regulations, who are keeping that all at the forefront, so the attorneys are always working off the best rules. And what we do is we’ll design the entire spend-down plan, present that to the attorney, they can then present that to their client, and then we can kind of accelerate that. So we want them to lean on us as much as they need, while there are other attorneys who are maybe more seasoned in the practice where they might not need as much handholding, but still, they’ll lean on us for guidance on specific issues that they may face, they haven’t seen before. Because we’re working nationally, we see a lot of the trends coming through the system. So we’re going to alert our client network of those trends as we become aware of them.

Jim: And you work with all attorneys throughout the country? Is there any limitations to that? Tell us a little bit about that.

Tom: Yeah, well we’re in 49 states. We have product available in 48 states, so short-term Medicaid Compliant Annuities in 48 states that go down as low as two months. The two states that we currently aren’t in is California, and the reason for that is the Deficit Reduction Act has been passed but never implemented, so they have a different rule set essentially. New York, we don’t have product there, but we do some Promissory Note consulting, so that’s a strategy that you can utilize that’s outside the annuity product.

Jim: Awesome. Now I know from just talking with some of our clients that you have in the past, you’re familiar with the workshop seminar type of model that a lot of the attorneys are doing, so they’re hosting these live events, they’re educating the public, how to protect their home and their savings from a longterm nursing home costs, right? So obviously, that’s what you guys specialize in. I know that you have actually co-presented with some of these attorneys. What do you normally bring to those presentations? How do you talk to the crowd, and then, how do you help the attorney after that event so that the people that maybe go into the consultations and they retain as a client utilizes the products that you were talking about at the seminar?

Tom: Yeah, well, seminars are a great tool that kind of spread the word of an opportunity, so I have done presentations with attorneys locally and to the communities, so reach out to retail clients, and again it’s a great opportunity to kind of spread knowledge because one of the biggest keys to this type of planning is there’s so much misinformation out there. So to get a room full of individuals who are obviously looking to solve a particular problem and the attorney, the elder law attorney is actually the best person to solve the problem that you mentioned is helping to find a way to avoid those costs of the nursing home. So one way to do it is once you have a client from one of those events is definitely give us call, we can walk through the case facts, provide an intake sheet for us, we’ll put the entire case together. We can meet with you as much as you need to feel comfortable with the plan, and then once you’re ready to put it into action, we’ll walk with you the entire way to completion. So we’re not just going to sell a product, we’re really selling a solution for your clients. And that really comes down to servicing the product itself. Because the product itself isn’t going to accomplish the goal. We really then have to make the Medicaid application, and that has to go smoothly, and then finally once the annuity’s done paying out, that’s when the case is done on our end. But we’re supporting it through that entire way.

Jim: So when you’re partnering with one of the attorneys for one of these events and you’re actually speaking to the general public on behalf of the attorney, right? So everything feeds through the elder law attorney. So what are the topics that you see the light bulbs kind of go off on the audience when you’re having those discussions?

Tom: Yeah, well, again there’s so much misinformation because, you know, the people in the general public might’ve heard from the nursing home administrator that they can’t do anything. They have to spend their money on the nursing home. They might’ve heard from their financial advisor who doesn’t really know anything about Medicaid planning something else. So I think the light bulb goes on when they realize there is an option still, that because they haven’t done anything at this point, it’s not too late. So despite being in the nursing home and they write those checks each and every month we can still put a plan together that’ll save them the bulk of their assets and accelerate their eligibility for the Medicaid program, so at that point, I think there’s a lot relief because a lot of people are… it’s called crisis planning for a reason because it is a stressful time so if an elder law attorney can come in and provide some guidance on how we’re going to do the plan but also we’ll provide them a sense of relief that there is a solution for their issue.

Jim: Yeah, and I mean these crisis planning cases they’re very beneficial for the elder law attorneys as well. I know that we have some clients of ours that focus exclusively on crisis planning situations, right? Because A) if you’re helping a family that’s dealing with crisis right now that’s very rewarding in itself, right? If you’re able to help save X amount of assets from being spent at a nursing home and they can be used to leave a legacy for your family why would you not want to do that, right? But there’s also financially for the elder law attorney they should be wanting to focus to grow their practice on these crisis planning cases. Do you have any kind of tips for elder law attorneys to maybe make some tweaks on what they’re doing right now instead of some of the pre-planning how they can focus more on crisis planning to get more of those cases in their office?

Tom: Yeah, well, like you said, Jim, it’s a great way to get referral business because if you help one family in the nursing home you’re going to have a whole wing of additional families once they learn of what the solution you provided that family you’re going to have people coming to you knocking on your door trying to get the same planning done for you, or for them, so it’s a great opportunity for referrals. I heard the stat that Medicaid planning or crisis Medicaid planning is the biggest congruency of all different professions. You have CPAs involved, you have caregivers involved, you have attorneys, financial advisors, so there’s tons of opportunity to get additional business through making those connections with other professionals in your area. So I guess the tip I would give an attorney just starting out, you definitely want to educate yourself on the planning strategies. You want to be up to date on that so that you can become very efficient in these. We’ve worked with attorneys where they might’ve done like you said, kind of done other types of law, then they realized the opportunity in elder law because it’s easy business, it’s rewarding, the clients are willing to write the check to pay the fees to the attorney because of the economic benefit that the attorney’s bringing. So those attorneys have now transitioned their practices to focus primarily on crisis planning and hopefully with the Medicaid Compliant Annuity.

Jim: Definitely. And when an attorney starts working with Krause, so maybe they’re not working with you yet. They’re typically probably going through I don’t know, I would call it maybe a stressor, right? So there’s a reason that something is not going the way that they had planned. Or they need to make something simpler or they’re confused about something and finally there’s a breaking point they go, we need to partner with somebody or whatever, right? And so, what is that typical process that the elder law attorney or maybe it’s an estate planning attorney that’s about to start maybe dabbling in crisis planning or elder law type cases. What are they typically going through before they start working with you?

Tom: Sure. Well, one example that I can think of is we hear from a lot of estate planning attorneys who are starting to see a lot of this business this crisis planning business, but they’re sending it down the street to the elder law attorney, so they keep sending so much down the street, that eventually, they’re like, Hey! I have to learn and educate myself on elder law because I’m sending so much business down the road to my associate. So a lot of attorneys at that point then want to educate themselves to really understand how elder law works with estate planning because they really do go hand in hand so if you’re a good estate planning attorney it makes sense to learn the elder law side of things as well because of the huge opportunity especially with you know the 10,000 baby boomers turning 65-years-old each and every day. So the demographics are in their favor. They should really have a hand or least the working knowledge base of elder law.

Jim: Definitely. And once somebody does start working with you you know, six months to a year in, how does their practice change? Where do they go from A to B? What are they like in that first year?

Tom: Yeah, I think attorneys, once they start working with us they find how easy it really is. Then it’s almost shocking to them. And the nice thing about that is then they can go focus on finding new business. ‘Cause the worse thing is, you know, if your practice isn’t efficient, if you’re not able to go then find new clients, you’re always having to rely on existing clients. So once they start working with us, we make their lives as easy as possible. Again, they can rely on us as much as they want for the planning advice and strategies, or once they’ve become more proficient, we’ll just kind of take a back seat and allow them to kind of dictate how they want to structure the annuity product. So our goal really is to kind of be, I always say the easy button for attorneys, so they have a case, a Medicaid crisis case, give us a call, send us the case facts, we’ll put together the plan, we’ll do all the calculations, so really relying on our office as kind of your back office for this type of planning. And then you can go focus on rainmaking, going to find more and additional clients to help grow your practice.

Jim: Definitely. I like that a lot because I like the case of the easy button because that’s what we want to be, we want to be the easy button. They want to do marketing, they want to fill an event, they want to get more leads into their practice. They reach out to us and we do that, right? And then you’re like the financial services easy button, right? And so now that they’ve got the clients, they’ve had the consultation, and they know that there’s a crisis, right? They get those case facts, they press the next easy button, right? And then you guys take over from there and then help them with that client’s individual needs, right? And then from that point, the check’s written to the attorney. The attorney’s making money, they’re going back out for the marketing, and it’s a process that’s able to repeat itself and duplicate itself over and over again and that’s how you can continue to grow a successful practice, right? One of the biggest things that I hear a lot on my side is when I do these live events, right? One of the push backs I guess some attorneys say I’m too busy, right? I’m too busy. Okay, well, if that’s me, I’m obviously going to make some changes so I can still be even busier and get things done at an effective way, right? And so by working with Krause, they would be able to streamline the process of getting that stuff taken care of so that maybe they don’t necessarily need to hire as many people, right? Because they’re utilizing you as a partner to take over that particular part of the business and still streamline things so I think that that’s was a great way to explain that like simplify your practice as much as you can especially for small and solo offices if they can simplify their marketing if they can simplify the crisis planning why not do that, right? And then just be there for the client and be the face and then outsource the things that they don’t really need to specialize in because they can specialize in the law aspect.

Tom: Yeah, and like I said, we have 25 people on staff so we have a whole team dedicated to legal research so we’re researching the rules in all the states across the country, so go to our website. We have all of the state figures, the desk reference which you need to do this planning, so again you don’t have to spend time searching for these things. We make it easy as possible for you so you can go out and find additional clients. Because when you’re successful as an elder law attorney, we’re successful. You have to be the one going out there to find the clients, close more business, and that’s when we really benefit as well. So it’s a win-win partnership between us and the attorneys.

Jim: And I know from talking with you and the other members of Krause at these live events, you guys do have a lot of different resources I believe even on your website. I know the one you hand out a lot is like the Krause Report. Tell us a little bit about that Krause Report and why a lot of attorneys, I know people flock to your table to get those on the USBs in the book. Why would they want those?

Tom: Yeah, well that our longest-running publication. I think we’re in year 10 or 11 of annually updating the Krause report. It’s kind of the foundational piece for Medicaid crisis planning, so if you’re new to the practice or if you’ve been in the practice for some time it’s going to be something you’re going to want to keep by your desk for a quick refresher. We like to put in updates as they occur so if there’s any changes to the legal system or there are any changes to the rules of the planning we’re going to update that annually and then we update it throughout the year. Because we print it in-house, it’s dynamic enough to keep it always up to date. So attorneys really rely on it for that reason if they have something that they want to brush up on they can flip to it quickly. It’s friendly. It’s not 3-400 pages. It’s kind of broken down to the key pieces that you’re going to need to know before you do this type of planning.

Jim: Awesome. One question I like to ask everybody, I’m going to ask it to you as well. What is the #1 piece of advice that you would give an elder law attorney today?

Tom: Sure. #1 piece of advice if you’re not doing crisis planning yet, I definitely recommend getting into it. Again, like I said earlier, the demographics are in your favor you should really analyze your practice. Where are you inefficient? If you have inefficiencies finding new clients, getting the work done, lean on a company like us. We’re here. We want to help you be successful so you can go out and grow your practice add additional offices, add additional staff. Because that’s really our purpose. We want to help you grow, Because again, once you grow, we’ll be successful, and it is really a win-win partnership. So get out there, learn the planning, understand it, go to events, educate yourself as much as you can, and then go into your community and really become an asset. And you will be viewed as an asset once you’re doing this type of planning because it is so beneficial and you’re going to have so many happy clients so many happy associates, as well, so get out there, and let’s close some business.

Jim: Awesome. And then finally, where can somebody learn more about Krause Financial. I know you guys do a lot of events but websites, social media, live events, where can they find more about you?

Tom: Yeah, well, I’d say the first place to start is go to that’s our website. There’s a ton of information there about us also we have a lot of the education pieces that I was talking about before. Sign up for an attorney access membership. It’s free. As an attorney, it going to give you access to all our webinar content. We have over 85 hours of webinar content. We’re hosting a number of partners now on our webinar platforms. So we just had Valerie Peterson from Elder Council. We have a lot of people from the industry coming onto our platform, which is very exciting. Beyond that, again get a copy of the Krause Report from our website. You can probably see me on the road. We’re actually doing another roadshow out in Colorado in August. Then we’re going back to the east coast at the end of August and we’re going to be going on the road through the rest of the year. It’s going to be myself and an associate. Other than that, we’re constantly at continuing legal education events throughout the country. We attended, I believe, approximately 70 events last year, so we’re trying to stay within that same figures or even expand on that since we’re doing our own roadshows now, so you’ll probably run into us, myself or an associate on the road but otherwise, give us call or send us an email. We’re easy to work with, that’s what we pride ourselves on being. We want to make your life as easy as possible, and if you have any questions about this type of planning or how the annuity might be able to benefit your practice, feel free to drop us a line.

Jim: Awesome. I know a lot of our clients do use you for their crisis planning cases, so I’ve heard nothing but good things. So I appreciate everything that you guys are doing, and one of the final thing that I just want to let everybody know before we end this call, Krause has agreed to do something pretty awesome for everybody that’s watching this video right now, or listening to this, or reading about it on our website, and they’re going to be providing some slides that you can just put right into your presentations if this is something that you want to start implementing in your practice, and what those will do is help you walk through their products to your audience, and give you a little bit of outline so you can kind of be comfortable with everything that we talked about today so if you want to tell us a little bit more about that Tom, that’d be awesome.

Tom: Yeah. Jim had asked us to put together a nice presentation. I think that’s a great opportunity to go out to the public because we really pride ourselves on making our content easy to absorb and easy to understand, so if you can bring that out to your clients, we’re not going to totally confuse them, I think it’s a great opportunity so they can leave the event after seeing the slides they can kind of understand conceptually how the planning works, so we try to make things as easy as possible. So we’ll have that available for you for download or Jim will provide the copies and we can also show you how to implement your state figures into the examples so they’re current for your situation, so yeah, we looking forward to providing those to you.

Jim: Yeah, I know that everybody that reaches out to us are going to love those presentation slides because honestly, they want to practice law they don’t want to be making PowerPoint presentations. And so, like you said, if we can make something easier for somebody, that’s what we’re going to do, so I appreciate you guys making that.

Tom: We have two designers on staff, so they love putting together these slides, making them look good, and so hopefully, you know, they can translate into your PowerPoint and leave everybody happy.

Jim: Awesome. Well again, Tom, thank you so much for joining us on this Zoom call. I hope it’s been valuable for all the elder law and the estate planning attorneys that are watching it. If you have any questions about anything with crisis planning, reach out to Tom or anybody at Krause Financial Services. They’re great people. I know they’d be happy to take care of you and your clients. Thanks again, Tom.

Tom: Thank you so much, Jim. Thank you, everybody.

Jim: Thanks.

In Conclusion

Tom Krause, from Krause Financial, is a huge asset to any elder law attorney looking to grow their firm through utilizing the Medicaid program.

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