April 2018 – Q: If my elderly father qualifies for Medicaid and is moved into nursing care, my mother will still need money to remain living at home. Will Medicaid take her assets to pay for his care?
A: No. Medicaid would allow your mother to keep her home, a vehicle, and enough money to live on. If and when your mom goes to live at a nursing home, Medicaid would collect whatever assets she had to help pay for her care. That could include the sale of the home, but not until all other assets have been spent down.
I’m often asked how to keep that from happening. Unfortunately, when the question is asked, it is generally too late since Medicaid has a five-year look-back period in which they can reclaim assets that have been given away.
Of course, that doesn’t stop your parents from giving away their money to their children now. However, the children would be wise to set this money aside for their parents’ care until the five-year look-back period has passed.
The only other way to protect your parents’ assets is to set up an irrevocable trust, which I never recommend.
Dan Celia has been in financial management for more than 30 years. He works closely with AFA Foundation and can be heard six days a week on AFR Talk (afr.net).
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