Can You Give Formula And Breastfeed At The Same Time Busting the Biggest Medicaid Myth – Transferring Assets

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Busting the Biggest Medicaid Myth – Transferring Assets

As an attorney, my clients often share rumors they hear “on the streets” about all kinds of legal matters. I give them credit for bringing these rumors to me because it gives me a chance to clear them up and gives them a chance to get the right advice and do the right thing. Since my practice covers elder law, the most frequent rumors I hear are related to Medicaid. They are also the most frustrating. I am amazed at the misinformation that is being circulated so recklessly.

The biggest Medicaid rumor my clients have shared with me is what to do when a parent suddenly becomes seriously ill, doesn’t have long-term care insurance, didn’t plan ahead for Medicaid, and needs Medicaid to pay for a permanent nursing home. to take care of. More than one client has told me that friends and acquaintances have advised them to put all of the parent’s assets in their name because then Medicaid will see that they have nothing and immediately qualify for Medicaid.

WRONG!

Not only is it wrong, it’s fraught with problems that can lead to penalties, disqualification, or worse, criminal charges for those in need and their families.

Whether a sick senior immediately qualifies for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care depends on whether they did Medicaid planning in advance or whether their current financial situation qualifies them to begin with. Truly poor people should have no problem qualifying. It is the lower middle class—those with modest assets who try not to lose them completely, especially if they have a good spouse or children—who have a more difficult task of qualifying.

Congress has created methods by which those who are not poor but not wealthy can try to protect some or all of their assets in order to qualify. At best, someone who plans ahead can set up a qualifying Medicaid trust, put all of their assets into the trust, and wait for the five-year look-back period. If a person can show that they have not owned the property for at least five years (since the trustee of the trust owns their property and the Medicaid applicant cannot be a trustee), they should qualify for Medicaid.

Problems arise in the worst-case scenario – when the parent fails to plan at all, or what we in the industry call a “Medicaid Crisis Event.” And that’s where these rumors come from. Because Medicaid looks back five years in a person’s financial history to determine what they own and where it went, transferring those assets to another person’s name without adequate compensation for the transfer will subject the Medicaid applicant to a penalty period, meaning they will not qualify for coverage for a certain amount of time based on a set formula.

The the worst what a child can do is transfer their parent’s assets out of the parent’s name, thinking Medicaid won’t know, or not reporting all assets thinking Medicaid won’t find them, both of which are tantamount to defrauding Medicaid and can subject that person to criminal charges . accusations. (Spouses have different rules.) The fact is that Medicaid thoroughly reviews each applicant’s financial background, references and cross-references documents, verifies all financial transactions, bank accounts and other assets, and determines whether funds have been transferred. . By the time they find out, it’s too late for the parent to do anything to reverse these transfers, and they’re disqualified from receiving Medicaid benefits, at least for a while.

Congress has authorized several methods by which even “crisis” cases can protect some of their assets. Some examples include purchasing an irrevocable funeral trust, investing in certain home improvements, making promissory note repayment gifts, and entering into personal service contracts with family members. The only way to find out if you or a loved one can protect some or all of your assets is to consult with an elder law attorney who specializes in Medicaid planning.

As my father said, “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear”. This is good policy when it comes to Medicaid gossip. Get the right advice so you can provide the best for your loved ones.

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