Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Aug 01, 2017

How does the debate over health care reform affect you and your estate plan?

35274856603_c2af85ca10_b.jpg In our last post we discussed the importance of keeping up with the constant changes happening in health care reform. We will continue to examine how the on-going deliberations in Washington may affect you, your future health care and your estate.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and making sure you stay informed on all the important details.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform.   

The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. With the "skinny repeal" bill off the table, lawmakers are unsure of where the health care debate is headed. 

Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff are trying to find a balance between conservative Republicans, who want a full repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement that has lower health care costs, and more moderate Republicans who want to preserve its more popular benefits.

The deal-making process is in full swing, with the additions of opioid funding and allowing health savings accounts to be used to pay for insurance premiums. Some Senators are for potentially leaving in some taxes to pay for more generous benefits, after weeks of being criticized by Democrats for offering “tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.” Conservatives want to cut more from the regulations and many from Medicaid expansion states are uneasy about future cuts to Medicaid.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered an amendment called the “Consumer Freedom Option” that would allow insurance companies to sell any health coverage plan they wish as long as they provide one plan that satisfies the “essential benefits” mandates of Obamacare. While the Cruz amendment appeals to conservatives who want to provide consumers with lower cost options, moderates are concerned it could negatively impact those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters have suggested that federal subsidies could help ensure that premiums don’t increase for those who are seriously ill. The CBO is currently scoring this amendment.  

President Trump, along with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, has even offered to repeal ObamaCare for now and replace it later.

Of course, no one is going to get everything they want so there must be compromises. Majority Leader McConnell has said that if the Senate is not able to pass a bill soon, Congress will have to pass a bipartisan measure to shore up the imploding health insurance markets.

And so, the Civics lesson continues. The process is at work.  As we see here the process can be long, unstable and worrisome.  Luckily for you your estate planning doesn’t have be. We at Dennis Sullivan and Associates make your estate planning and asset protection worry and stress free.  Once you have a plan in place you will feel confident knowing it will protect you, your family and your life savings.  You can enjoy life to the fullest knowing you and your family are protected no matter what unknowns lay ahead. 

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Affordable Health Care, Affordable Health Care Act, Announcements, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Health Care, Health Care Ruling, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, Retirement, applying for medicare, Medicaid penalties, care costs, care, coverage, coverages, disenrollment, elder care, enrollment, elder care journey, federal, health, health Care act, life-care plan, long term care, medicaid qualification, medical expenses, proposed changes, senior, unreimbured medical expenses, seniors

The Pit Falls of Do-It-Yourself Medicaid Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Nov 07, 2014

The Pit Falls of Do-It-Yourself Medicaid Planning | Massachusetts Elderlaw Attorney

 

Carrier_Nursing_Home_Poverty 

Off To A Good Start

We got a call the other day from Ben.  He had prepared and filed his mother’s Medicaid application himself.  From what he told us, it sounded like he did a great job.

He had hit a bit of a snag because Ben and his brother had been helping Mom out with her expenses.  At first, the Medicaid caseworker treated the transfers into Mom’s account as additional income to her.  However, Ben was successfully able to prove that the money was given to Mom to help pay some of her medical expenses.  It wasn’t support and shouldn’t affect her Medicaid eligibility.  He was successful and Medicaid was approved.

So Why Was He Calling?

Ben was calling us because his mother had inherited $75,000 from a family member. The first thing he wanted to know was whether there was any way they could keep the money.  His thinking was that the inheritance would act as a reimbursement by Mom to Ben and his brother.

I told him that unfortunately I didn’t think it would work that way.  The lesson here is that if Ben had consulted with us before he applied for Medicaid we would have taken steps to make sure that he could recoup some of the funds in the event that something like this happened. The reason his plan wouldn’t work is because he didn’t document that the money he gave to his mom was a loan.  He said that he never could have foreseen that his mother could ever pay back the money and that at the time; he didn’t see the need to write up a contract. Unfortunately, from a Medicaid perspective, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presumes that the money given to Mom is either income to support her, or a gift.

This Is Why You Should Consult A Professional

Remember, I told you that when Ben applied for Medicaid, the caseworker tried to peg it as income.  Ben successfully fought that.  However, he didn’t see the gift vs. loan issue coming.    Not knowing the Medicaid rules as I do, how could he have?  Without a written agreement at the time he gave Mom the money, the presumption is that there was never an intention for Mom to pay her sons back, making any attempt now to do so a transfer subject to a Medicaid penalty.

Ben didn’t like my answer and tried to find a way around the system.  “What about if Mom refuses to accept the inheritance,” he asked.  “It would then pass to my brother and me.”

Disclaimers May Not Apply

Ben is referring to what is known as a disclaimer.    A disclaimer is a legal statement filed by the heir who says, “I am supposed to receive this gift but I don’t want it”.  Mom would be treated as having predeceased (died) before the relative leaving her the $75,000.  Under his will, that money would have passed to Ben and his brother.

Sounds great so far doesn’t it, but it won’t work.  By refusing to accept the money, Medicaid treats it as if Mom took the inheritance and gave it away.  It is no different than if she accepts it and then turns around and gives it to her children.  It causes a Medicaid penalty either way.

So where does that leave Ben?  He and Mom have two very unappealing choices.  She can accept the money, come off of Medicaid and spend the money down and then reapply.  Or, she can stay on Medicaid and give all the money to the State of Massachusetts.   Tough choices, I know.  But, that’s what makes Medicaid so tricky when you are trying to navigate it alone, and why we always recommend professional guidance on your Medicaid journey.

 

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At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Medicaid, family, Medicaid penalties, medicaid qualification, Inheritance

Can Your Will Protect You When You Don't Die?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

 

What Happens When You Don’t Die?

medicare, medicaid, wills, spouse

 

Is your “I love you” will capable of protecting you or your spouse from long-term care costs?

You know the kinds of wills we’re talking about: The husband leaves everything to the wife, the wife leaves everything to the husband and after they both die, everything goes to the kids. This works well in situations where the spouses are healthy one day and are deceased the next. 

However, as most of us know, life usually doesn’t work that way very often. Research indicates that nearly 70% of individuals over 65 will require some kind of long-term care in their lifetimes.

Thus, many spouses worry that if they predecease an ill spouse who is currently in a nursing home or will require long-term care at some point in the near future, there will be insufficient funds available to provide for their institutionalized spouses’ needs. This is an especially relevant concern for expenses that are not covered under Medicaid such as: care managers, private nurses, single rooms, as well as certain therapies and drugs.

Another concern is that the availability of funds from “I love you” wills and trusts will disqualify the surviving ill spouse from eligibility for Medicare benefits. As you know from prior articles, Medicare (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is the only long-term-care governmental program in the United States and does not cover long-term custodial care.

To solve this problem many of our clients rely on a “testamentary trust”. This is a trust built into the will of each spouse. For many estate planners, this is counterintuitive because much of the estate planning occurs within the context of a revocable living trust. In order to preserve access to Medicaid eligibility without requiring that the surviving spouse spend down the assets and lose the chance to maintain a “rainy day fund”, creating a testamentary trust in the will of the pre-deceasing spouse is essential.

What this means is that around age 55, you have to completely revise your wills and trusts to accommodate a different paradigm of thought. The thinking process is no longer “What happens when I die?” Now the question becomes “What happens if I don’t die and live a long time with expensive long-term care?”

The new paradigm requires a new estate plan. If you consider yourself middle-class (meaning that your net worth will be significantly impacted by the cost of long-term care for you and/or your spouse) and are over age 55, we suggest that you revise and update your estate plan to reflect your current and future needs as soon as possible.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: will, living will, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, in-home care, Health Care, estate reduction, estate, elder care journey, hospice, Alzheimers Disease, medicaid qualification, Wills, assets, Medicaid penalties, alzheimer's activities, in home, incapacity, Elder Law, Attorney, myths, Alzheimer's, alzheimers, financial, Attorney, income, Alzheimer's, federal, health, surviving spouse, in-home care, long term care insurance

Medicaid & Marriage, Do They Go Together?|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Feb 19, 2014

Medicaid, Marriage, Estate Planning

 

Ted called me concerning his step-mom, Roberta.  Roberta is in the hospital but about to be transferred to a nursing facility where she will remain on a long term basis once Medicare coverage stops.  The conversation quickly turned to Medicaid.

Ted explained that Dad and Roberta have been married 5 years.  Roberta came into the marriage with very few assets.  Dad owns the home where Ted and his brother grew up, worth approximately $500,000, and another $500,000 of additional investments.  His mom died about 10 years ago and Dad, seeking companionship, reconnected with Roberta, an old high school classmate.  Ted told me that Roberta has a daughter with whom she has no relationship and who is no help at all in caring for Roberta.

Ted’s $64,000 question was, “How much does Dad have to spend down towards Roberta’s care before she can qualify for Medicaid?”  He told me that Dad had always intended to leave his assets to Ted and his brother when he dies but now is concerned about whether that will happen.

I asked Ted some preliminary questions.  Neither Dad nor Roberta has any long term care insurance.  They also do not have a prenuptial agreement in place, although even if they did, Dad would have to divorce Roberta to invoke that agreement and protect his assets from being spent down towards her care.

So, where does that leave them?  Next time I’ll tell you.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

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Tags: Estate Planning, Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Health Care, medicaid qualification, 2014

Tax Fraud, Medicaid Penalty, or Both? Part 2 | Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Jan 30, 2014

 

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Last time we were discussing Ed’s problem.  His brother Tom had been using Dad’s account to buy and sell Tom’s investments, presumably because having Dad pay the tax instead of Tom was more beneficial.  However, what happens when Dad applies for Medicaid?

Medicaid will definitely question the $500,000 in assets transferred back from Dad to Tom.  As long as Tom can show that he originally transferred the assets to Dad, then the transfer back is simply Tom taking his money back.  Ed, however, told me of Tom’s reluctance to cooperate, for obvious reasons.

I explained that while I cannot guarantee that the IRS or State Division of Taxation won’t catch on, it is highly unlikely.  I don’t know of any instance in which Medicaid has reported what it sees on a Medicaid application to the IRS or Massachusetts’ income tax division.  Government bureaucracies don’t communicate well with each other.  And certainly there is even less communication between federal and state government.  So, I think it is very unlikely that Tom will run into problems because of what is disclosed as part of a Medicaid application.

Still, that may not be enough to secure Tom’s cooperation.  But, I told Ed that his calling me now, while Dad still has significant assets, was a good thing.  Knowing the potential problems that lie ahead, we can work around them.

Ed told me that Dad receives $2250 from Social Security and a pension and that he is a Korean War Veteran.  That’s good.  Moving Dad’s assets into a VA qualifying trust, we can get him a VA Aid and Attendance pension of  $1753 per month if he moves to an assisted living facility.  At $4000 per month his income would entirely cover the $4000 monthly cost of care that Ed had estimated.

It is very likely, however, that as Dad’s health declines he’ll need increased care so that $4000 number will climb.  Our goal is to stretch his dollars so that he does not need Medicaid until 5 years after Tom took his $500,000 back.  Why?  Because then we won’t have to explain it all to Medicaid since it will fall outside the 5 year look back.

Doing the math, I showed Ed how that was very doable.  Tom took back his money 6 months ago.  So we really have to get through the next 4 and ½ years, 54 months.  If over that 54 month period Dad’s care averages $6000 per month, he’ll need an additional $2000 above what his income can cover.   That money would come from the money we transferred to the trust, approximately $108,000 in total.  Once we’re past the 5 years we don’t have to worry about the mess Tom created.

But what if Dad’s health deteriorates more rapidly and he needs nursing home care at $10,000 per month after, say, 6 months.  Well, that means the shortfall over 4.5 years would be about $300,000 and Dad would have just enough to get through till Medicaid kicks in.

I explained to Ed that these were all estimates but the point I was making, which he clearly understood, is that we need to manage Dad’s care and costs with an eye towards Medicaid down the road.  Of course, we don’t know what scenario will actually occur, but following my plan he’ll be ready for whatever the future throws at him.  And we won’t have to worry about getting Tom to cooperate to fix the mess he created.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: IRS, Medicaid, MassHealth, medicaid qualification, Medicaid penalties, 2014

Tax Fraud, Medicaid Penalty, or Both?|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jan 20, 2014

 Taxes, Medicaid, Medicare, Fraud

Ed called me because he had just taken over Dad’s finances and the management of care from his brother, Tom.  That’s when he made a discovery that troubled him and caused him to reach out to us.

Dad was still living at home alone but his health was declining.  Ed began looking at assisted living facilities.  At a cost of approximately $4000 per month, Ed was concerned about whether Dad could afford it.  So I started to ask him about Dad’s assets and income.

Ed told me Dad has about $300,000 in assets but he then went on to explain that Tom had transferred almost $500,000 out of Dad’s name.  He explained that Tom bought and sold investments in Dad’s account so the income was being taxed at Dad’s income level, which was lower than Tom’s.   “Is that a problem”, he asked.

“It could be”, I told him.  If Dad runs out of money and needs to apply for Medicaid, he’ll have to produce 5 years of records and that’s where the problem lies.  They’ll see the money going back to Tom.  As I always explain, Medicaid works differently than the criminal system.  In the criminal system you are innocent until proven guilty, but the Medicaid system works the other way around.

I told Ed that he will have the burden of proving that the money was Tom’s and not Dad’s.  As long as Tom is able to show a paper trail of assets he deposited into Dad’s account that matches the money going back to Tom then no Medicaid penalty will be assessed for a “transfer for less than fair value”.

“But I’m not sure Tom will cooperate.  If he admits that the assets are his, could he or Dad run into problems with the IRS or Massachusetts Department of Revenue”, Ed asked.

I have to admit that if Tom is in a higher tax bracket, that would mean a higher tax bill.  And if Tom transferred assets to Dad for the purpose of avoiding income tax, he and Dad could be accused of committing tax fraud.  I told Ed he’d need to consult with a tax attorney.

My focus, however, was on the Medicaid issue.  I had some thoughts on how to avoid a Medicaid penalty.  Next time I’ll share them with you.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Medicaid, MassHealth, tax exemption, taxes, medicaid qualification, tax, 2014

Medicaid is No Walk in the Park Part 2|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Nov 20, 2013

Medicaid is No Walk in the Park 

Part II

Walk in the Park

 Last time we were examining Kate’s problem getting Medicaid for her mom.  Specifically, the issue was a joint account held by mother and daughter.

Into that account, Kate deposited her income which she used to pay for household bills, such as utilities, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance etc.  She took some of Mom’s income and transferred it to that joint account in order to pay some of those bills.  She explained that both of them were living in the household so they both contributed to the costs.

“Not a problem”, I told Kate.  “But, if you are claiming that the account isn’t Mom’s, you have the burden of proving that.  Medicaid assumes that it was Mom’s account and she put your name on it, not the other way around.  You must trace that account back to when it was just in your name, before you added Mom as a co-owner.  Only then will Medicaid be satisfied that it isn’t Mom’s.”

Kate listened carefully.  “So, is that it”, she asked.   No, actually there was more.

If we are successful in showing Medicaid that it isn’t Mom’s account, then the transfer of Mom’s income to that account to help pay the bills would now be a transfer for less than fair value.  Why is that?  Because Mom is transferring money out of her name to an account that we have just proved is Kate’s, not Mom’s.

Isn‘t  Kate then caught up in a classic Catch-22?  She seems to lose either way. Well, no.  Not really.  There is a way out.  Remember, the money transferred to the joint account is Mom’s share of the household expenses.  As long as we are able to prove by a clear paper trail what that money was spent on, then Medicaid won’t assess a penalty.

I asked Kate if she is able to do all that.  She was hesitant to reply.  She told me she hadn’t kept detailed records with the expectation that she would need to prove all this to anyone.  But, she said she would do her best.

“As long as we can back up what you are saying with a clean paper trail”, I told Kate, “then we should be able to straighten out your Medicaid denial.”  Kate certainly had plenty of motivation to get to work.  The$ 40,000 nursing home bill that Mom owes would motivate just about anyone.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, Medicaid, MassHealth, medicaid qualification, assets, Medicaid penalties, asset, 2013

Medicaid is no Walk in the Park |Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Nov 18, 2013

Medicaid Is No Walk In The Park

Walking in the Park, Thinking

Kate told me, “Mom has no money.  She’s never had any money.  But Medicaid still denied her application and now I owe the nursing home $40,000.”  I knew there had to be more to her story.  Sure enough, there was.

It’s a very common belief that, because Mom and Dad never had much money, the Medicaid application process should be a piece of cake.  Maybe it should be but the reality is it just isn’t the case. Kate’s dilemma was proof.

Kate told me that she and her Mom had lived together her entire life.  In fact, Mom and Dad transferred the home to Kate.  When I heard that, I immediately thought this could be her problem right there.

I asked how long ago the deed had been transferred.   “10 years ago”, was Kate’s reply.  That was clearly outside the 5 year Medicaid look back period so could not have triggered a Medicaid transfer penalty.    It had to be something else.

“Does Mom have any accounts with her name on it, that, in your mind, you don’t consider hers”, I asked.  That’s when Kate told me that she had a joint account with Mom but she insisted the money in that account was all hers, not Kate’s.

I learned that Kate’s income is deposited into that account, from which she pays the bills.  Mom’s income, she told me, goes into a separate account in Mom’s name, the only account Kate considers to be owned by Mom.  I explained to her that this was mostly likely the cause of her Medicaid denial.

Next time I’ll share with you why and what we could do to fix the problem.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, Medicaid, MassHealth, medicaid qualification, assets, Medicare, asset, 2013

Confused About the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)? | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Nov 14, 2013

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We are here to help!

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides insurance for those who are uninsured, many of whom have, unfortunately, become overcome with confusion, fear, and misunderstanding, that they are avoiding to process all together. We understand that! We are navigating the options for the people we help, but even we are little unsure of the best options for them.

But there is one thing we are sure of, its the new benefits added to Medicare recipients! These added benefits include yearly Wellness visits (an opportunity to talk about your future), and coverage for numerous procedures that were not covered before.

For more information about this confusing topic, visit our website to receive your free copy of our report, "The Senior's & Boomer's Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty."

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

Make sure you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about Obamacare, Medicare cuts, taxes, & how to avoid nursing home poverty!

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Click the picture below for some more information on the 
"Senior & Boomers' Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty." 

describe the image

Tags: Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Wellesley, medical expenses, medicaid qualification, Medicare, Obama, 2013, Massachusettes, Affordable Health Care, Obamacare

Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer | Jill Saved $30,000 - Part Two

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Feb 04, 2013

Medicaid, Medicare, Fiscal Cliff, Seniors, Estate Planning, MassachusettsLast week we were talking about Jill, who tried to apply for Medicaid for her grandfather, but ran into a snag. She provided the Medicaid caseworker with 5 years of financial records and was told that Granddad still had to spend down another $30,000 from accounts that Jill never knew existed.

When we looked at the statements Jill gave to Medicaid, it was clear that the $30,000 in question was in two Uniform Gift to Minors Act accounts, for which Granddad was acting as custodian for Jill.  We asked her why she gave those documents to Medicaid and Jill didn’t have a good answer. “I just figured I would give them everything and they would tell me when he would be eligible and what I needed to do”, she replied.

It’s a very common response. Many people are under the erroneous belief that the Medicaid application process is a simple one. They know there is a penalty if they gift money but, Jill’s Grandfather hadn’t done that.  He legitimately spent down all the assets so she thought she would just walk into the Medicaid office and tell them that, hand over everything and it would all be fine.  Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way and what you don’t know can really hurt you. You can’t rely on the state Medicaid caseworker because so often they are wrong. That was the case here.

You see, when Granddad set up the UGMA accounts 30+ years ago, when Jill was a young child, he irrevocably transferred the money into those accounts for Jill’s benefit. He remained a custodian of those accounts until Jill reached 21, entrusted to manage those funds for her benefit. We explained to Jill that for Medicaid purposes those funds were no longer Granddad’s so they shouldn’t be counted as his. The caseworker was wrong to tell her to cash out the accounts and spend down the funds for Granddad.

What Jill needed to do now was to transfer those accounts to her name. She was now 45 so that should have happened 24 years ago. I told her that under the UGMA law she was entitled to access those accounts. And if you’re wondering whether the transfer to an account in her name will cause a Medicaid penalty, the answer is no!  The money was transferred out of Granddad’s name more than 5 years ago when he made the irrevocable transfer, so it wouldn’t fall within the Medicaid look back period.

In fact, Granddad was taking the interest all these years, some of which went towards paying for his long term care in his later years. In other words, some of what was legally Jill’s money went towards Granddad’s care already so Medicaid shouldn’t complain about that.

Jill understood what we were saying but asked if we would step in and assist her to complete the process.  Several months later we received a favorable decision.  Jill was able to keep the $30,000 and Granddad was approved for Medicaid.

Jill was appreciative and understood the mistake she made.  We told Jill that her mistake was in relying on the state to steer her in the right direction. Luckily, we were there to save the day and save Jill $30,000.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique education and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your beneficiaries, digital assets, Estate Plan and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: long term care, Medicare, Baby Boomers, Medicaid, Health Care, assisted living, medicaid qualification, Elder Law, Attorney

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