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Medicaid – The 5 Year Lookback Rule

13 Apr

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: April 11, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Last in a Medicaid series

I’ve never met anyone who would rather give his or her money to the government than leave it for one’s children, heirs or charity. The government never has as well.

To combat the natural inclination of giving away one’s money and property to qualify for free nursing home care, Medicaid, like in hockey, has a penalty box.

If you impermissibly give away your assets in Medicaid’s eyes, the whistle blows, you are disqualified from further play and placed in the penalty box.

The penalty? Medicaid takes the value of your gift and divides it by the average monthly cost of nursing home care. The result is the number of months you must sit in the penalty box before you can apply again.

There is a safe harbor though, as lawyers like to say, where you can permissibly make a gift and avoid the penalty box: make that gift more than 5 years before you apply for Medicaid and your gift is usually safe.

Your gift is then no longer a countable asset on the government’s list of assets that you must sell and spend before you can qualify for care.

Be careful! Always consult an Elder Care Attorney for your particular Medicaid situation. © George Warshaw 2012.

Read the Medicaid series at www.GeorgeintheMetro.com

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

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Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

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Medicaid – What’s Yours Is Mine!

3 Apr

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: April 4, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Third in a Medicaid series

To qualify for Medicaid a person has to meet a limited income test and a limited asset test. The threshold amounts differ for married and unmarried persons. This article focuses on your assets.

Take everything you and your spouse own, throw them into a single pot, and then remove a few approved items. The government then counts or adds up the value of what’s left over. If these countable assets add up to too much, you don’t qualify.

If you don’t qualify, you must sell and spend your “countable assets” in a permissible way.

Think of it as a two-column list. Column A is the government’s list of what you must first sell or spend before you qualify. Column B is your list of what you can keep. It’s your safe harbor.

Your home is usually protected. It’s in your column; but if you put your home into a revocable trust, it usually shifts to the government’s sell and spend Column. If you are unmarried and the equity in your home is $750,000 or more (you should be so lucky!), your home shifts to the government’s sell and spend Column.

Be careful! Always consult an Elder Care Attorney for your Medicaid situation. This article provides general information only, not legal advice.

Next week, Medicaid’s Penalty Box!

© George Warshaw 2012

George Warshaw is a real estate and estate planning attorney in Massachusetts.  He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts for individuals and families. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

_________________________________________________________________

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

Medicaid – Taming the 800 lb. Gorilla

29 Mar

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: March 28,  2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Second in a Medicaid series

It is a Gorilla, though not necessarily as nice. It’s filled with rules, exceptions to rules, exceptions to exceptions and a time consuming and discouraging process.

I needed to learn how one protected or lost one’s home or inheritance. I spent weeks reading the MassHealth regulations, researching Medicaid online and reading more on the subject. I found a way to organize this mess of information to make sense of it – for you and me.

There are four key rules: rules that qualify you for Medicaid; rules that disqualify or penalize you; rules that protect you from the Gorilla; and rules that drain your children’s inheritance.

And for each rule, there is always one more question: is the Medicaid applicant married or unmarried, because the rules often differ if an applicant is married.

For example, there are circumstances where an unmarried Medicaid applicant can be forced to sell his home to pay for nursing home care before qualifying for Medicaid or retaining it; but if he is married, and his wife still resides in the house, the home is usually fully protected from a Medicaid required sale.

More next week!

Warning: only a personal consultation with an Elder Care Attorney can provide proper legal advice for your situation. This article provides general information only.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com

_________________________________________________________________

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

MEDICAID AND YOUR HOME

22 Mar

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: March 21,  2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

In the last few weeks we used the plight of 98 yr. old Mrs. K, who found herself being evicted by her son from the home she once owned, to review how a parent can protect oneself when transferring a home to one’s children. See www.GeorgeintheMetro.com.

The risks in any such gift or transfer are apparent: what happens to a parent’s home if the child who is supposed to protect the parent gets divorced, sued or becomes bankrupt, or mortgages the house without the parent’s knowledge – or sells the house?

It happens despite the best of intentions. That’s why trusts are good. They can protect a parent through customized content.

But what often what works for one purpose doesn’t work for another. That’s true at times with Medicaid. Medicaid doesn’t like trusts. And trusts don’t like Medicaid.

The premise of Medicaid is simple: with certain exceptions, the government believes that a person should exhaust nearly all his or her personal assets before the government should pay a dime for nursing home care and Medicaid benefits. The government is the 800 lb. gorilla life looming over your life.

The Medicaid regulations are intricate, complex and not well understood. I’m going to explore several rules that affect one’s home in next few columns. Stay tuned. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com

_________________________________________________________________

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.