Q. My children’s names are on my checking and savings accounts and my CDs. Does that make them exempt or partially exempt?
A. Generally, no. Those are your assets and countable even though the children have access to the money.
Q. I put my assets in a Trust a few years ago. Does that protect the assets?
A. Most often not. If the Trust assets or income can be used for your benefit, then they are available to pay the Nursing Home or for your at-home costs.
Q. Why can’t I just give it to my children and then apply?
A. Medicaid rules do not allow you to give away money within a certain time period called the lookback. If you give away money within that period you could make yourself ineligible for Medicaid for a long time.
Q. Can I give away money without penalty?
A. Most often not. There is a type of gifting that applies to federal estate tax issues but not Medicaid issues. There are a few specific times when one can gift money without penalty.
Q. What about just putting the money into a Medicaid Annuity?
A. People finding themselves in a situation where a family member is going into the nursing home are sometimes led to believe that the purchase of an annuity is the best or even the only way out. This is rarely the case. In fact, the use of annuities in Medicaid planning is useful in only a very small percentage of cases. Often, the case can be handled in other ways that are more advantageous to the Medicaid applicant and family.
An annuity, when purchased, leaves the person locked into what is usually a low-yielding investment, with the remainder possibly going to Medicaid.
Medicaid laws, rules and interpretations are constantly changing. Before you rely upon any Medicaid information or advice, you should make sure your advisor knows all the facts of your particular situation and the most current Medicaid laws, rules and interpretations.
Q. Can Medicaid take my assets after I die?
A. The assets of a deceased person who has received Medicaid benefits are at risk of being taken by the state to repay for Medicaid services provided. Thorough consideration of Medicaid estate recovery should be part of good Medicaid planning by an elder law attorney.
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