Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

A Married Couple's Asset Protection Journey

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Aug 30, 2018



At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we were fortunate enough to be able to help a married couple, both teachers, plan for their retirement and estate planning. After being referred to us by an independent financial adviser toward the end of their careers we advised that they may want to attend one of our Free Discovery Workshops on Estate, Trusts, and Asset Protection Planning.

After being impressed with what they learned at the Workshop they scheduled their complimentary meeting to have us review their existing wills, trusts, disability, and healthcare documents. They made it clear that they had long term care insurance that would cover only $100 per day for two years (At the time cost of care at a nursing home was roughly $400 per day). Therefore, they would have had to pay $300 per day had a situation arose in the near term. $300 x 365 = $109,500 annually for two years, a total of $219,000. After the first two years of coverage lapsed, they would be responsible for the entirety of the cost of care payments. If nursing home costs did not rise, at $400 they would be looking at a nursing home bill of $146,000 annually. For comparison, the rates today are in the neighborhood of $18,000 per month and are steadily rising.

Because of the high cost of in home care and a desire to maintain control of their assets and healthcare decisions they had us create for them an updated Revocable Living Trust as well as a new protective trust for their home and long term savings. Having a solid asset protection plan allowed them to decide to avoid paying over $15,000 every year to expand their long term care coverage from $100 to $250 a day, which was short of the $400 a day, cost at the time. They were pleased that this estate plan would protect their home, spouse, and life savings!

Over a decade later they remain clients and members of The Lifetime Protection Program as we help them strategically plan how their trusts and other life and death documents should function to preserve their capital.

As members of the Lifetime Protection Program, this retired couple enjoy many benefits. First, we helped them implement the proper healthcare documents for their children and grandchildren, over the age of 18, to ensure that in the case of an emergency; medical professionals would be able to disclose information to family members. This is a little known secret that you do not want to find out the hard way. [Please see our upcoming workshop schedule to discover more]

With healthcare documents in place, we were able to focus our attention on asset preservation and protection. As with most people that we help they were interested in ways to provide for the surviving spouse and ultimately, maximize the inheritances of their family members. Putting the deed to their home into their protective trust ensured that when their children inherited the property they would receive the step-up in basis as well as protecting the home against nursing home costs down the road. This alone will save their children from paying any long term capital gains if they sell the home at market value. Various gifting strategies, educational savings plans including a 529 account, were additional steps taken to reduce their overall estate tax levied by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An important step taken was to update their Durable Power of Attorney forms to provide maximum security in the event that either one of them lost capacity during their lifetime, and there were assets that were NOT included in their trusts. To discover more about trusts, life and death planning, as well our unique process and services visit and sign-up for a free discovery session. You and your family will be glad you did for generations to come. This planning could save you and your family countless nightmares, heartache, and a significant amount of money. Click here to attend an upcoming workshop today or call 1-800-964-4295 to register.

Tags: surviving spouse, charitable, donations, transferring, trust, irrevocable trust, Wills, Inheritance, step up basis, care costs, grandchildren

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Can I Transfer My Home to My Child and Still Get Medicaid?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Oct 01, 2012

Medicaid, estate planning attorney, MassachusettsCan I transfer my home to my child who lives with me and still get Medicaid?

The following case is a prime example of how a little bit of information can be a dangerous thing.  Mom transferred her home to Linda 4 years ago.  Mother and daughter had been living in the home for years.  “Since I am living in the home isn’t it an exempt asset?” Linda asked.  “Yes, it is,” I told her, “but that doesn’t mean Mom can transfer it to you.”

What Linda did is confuse the rules on exempt assets with the rules on transferring assets.  If Mom needs nursing home care and applies for Medicaid, the State will not force the sale of the home if Linda has been, and continues to, live in it.  In other words, it won’t require the sale proceeds to be spent on Mom’s care before it will approve her Medicaid application.

Keep in mind that if Linda lives there, she can’t use any of Mom’s income to pay for taxes, insurance and upkeep.  That income must go to the nursing home.  Linda must pay the expenses herself, but she can continue to live there.  After Mom passes away the State will place a lien on the home to recoup the benefits it paid out during Mom’s life, but Linda can continue to live there (assuming she is the person who inherits the home from Mom) and the State will wait until the home is sold to be paid back.

Now, here’s where Linda made her mistake.  She figured that if the home is exempt as long as she is living there, Mom can transfer ownership to her and still qualify for Medicaid at any point in time.  That is incorrect.  Transferring an exempt asset is still subject to the 5 year lookback and a potential Medicaid penalty.

If Mom’s house is worth $400,000, the transfer to Linda results in a potential penalty of 48 months.  This means that if she applies for Medicaid now, 4 years after the transfer, she will be ineligible for Medicaid for 48 months.  “Are there any exceptions to this rule?,” Linda asked.

“There are a few,” I told her.  Next week we will share with you what they are.

For more information about Medicaid, you can gain free online access to the “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits revealed by the Affordable Care Act.

Click Here to Download the Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nursing Home Poverty

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at


Tags: Medicaid, Estate Planning, transfer of assets, exempt, non-exempt, Medicaid penalties, transferring, Massachusetts

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