While it is preferable to conduct long-term care planning well in advance of needing care, if you haven’t planned ahead, there are some strategies available to avoid spending all your assets. Three so-called “half a loaf” approaches allow a Medicaid applicant to give away some assets while still qualifying for Medicaid.
In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets (the figure may be somewhat higher in some states) in addition to the home, and the resident cannot have recently transferred assets. (A spouse living at home may keep more.)
Congress has imposed a penalty on people who transfer assets without receiving fair value in return. This penalty is a period of time during which the person transferring the assets will be ineligible for Medicaid. The penalty period does not begin until the person making the transfer has (1) moved to a nursing home, (2) spent down to the asset limit for Medicaid eligibility, (3) applied for Medicaid coverage, and (4) been approved for coverage but for the transfer.
If a Medicaid applicant has excess assets, he or she must spend down those assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. However, Medicaid applicants who want to preserve some assets have a few options:
These strategies may not work in every state and none of them should be attempted without the help of an attorney whose practice includes Medicaid planning. To find an attorney near you, click here.