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Another question about depleting assets

Posted by carrie630 (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 18, 10 at 20:12

Keep in mind - I am very new to this and all the information concerning nursing homes, assets, medicaid, etc. etc.

My question is simple: A made up scenario: Mother is 80 and will end up in nursing home at age 83. In order to qualify for medicaid, she has to have no money/assets - right? Okay, but she's given her three children checks in the last couple of years since age 80... My understanding from this forum and reading elsewhere, is that they can ask the children for those "assets" back (?) because she went into a home within three years of giving the money(?)

What about Christmas - are parents not allowed to give money (in checks - not cash) as gifts?

I am a bit confused about that "going back five years for any assets"

Pardon my ignorance, I am learning as I go along

Carrie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I have a client asking the same questions. Her husband has Parkinson's and she is trying to plan. She has been told by her attorney that she can spend money on their home (basic maintenance, minor improvements/care like carpeting or a roof work). I reminded her to ask if she can contribute gifts, and in what amounts, to the grandchildren's college 529 accounts. She is planning on spending down money on getting a CNA in their home for 2 hours a day to help out with her husband's bathing and dressing instead. That will eat up some of the money on a regular basis.

On a personal note, why will your Mother wind up in a nursing home in three years?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Oh gosh, no. I am hoping never in a home, but I typed "made up scenario" for just general information - I am hoping, again, never and we want her around for a long, long time - but one never knows, so I want to be prepared for the worst.

I will be asking the lawyer on Tuesday about Xmas gifts - they are calling me when they have the appointment and I will be on conference call. These are questions my parents are asking - they want to give us a bit of money for Xmas.

Thanks


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

In Indiana you can give each child and grandchild $10,000 a year. My MIL did this..


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Susie, was your MIL paying down her assets in order to qualify for Medicaid?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

But isn't there a "look back" of five years - so if she gave everyone $10,000 and went to apply for Medicaid, again - I wonder - how does Medicaid determine when you can apply based on the look back gifts?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Carrie, I'm no expert (and this is stuff I need to know as well, as my mom has Alzheimer's and may outlive her assets and need to qualify for Medicaid.) My perception is that while your mom could give money of up to $13,000 to each child (amounts do vary by state, so check to see how much your state allows) without the child having to pay a gift tax, Medicaid would still perceive those gifts as an attempt to "hide or purposely divest assets." The limit of $13,000 is what a person can give away without the recipient having to pay a gift tax, it doesn't have anything to do with Medicaid. Medicaid wouldn't ask for that money back, but they could penalize your mom by making her continue to pay out-of-pocket for her care for a length of time that matches the amount of money she gave away.

For example, if she gave away $13,000 within the 5 year time period that Medicaid looks back, they would make her ineligible for benefits until she had spent an additional $13,000 of her own money on her care. So, say she's in a facility that costs $2,600 per month--rather than Medicaid picking up that bill, they'd make your mom pay for it directly for the next 5 months ($2,600 x 5 = $13,000).

Again, please don't take this as legal or financial advice as I'm not a lawyer or financial advisor, but that's the way I understand it.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

A minor point: The recipient of a cash gift exceeding the limit is not liable for the tax, but the one giving the gift is.

The article I've linked is dated with wrong amounts, etc., but the content is correct.

Here is a link that might be useful: Who pays the gift tax?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

If it's at all possible, have the gifts be made in cash. That's what my mom used to do in order to avoid any government interference. However, dealing with more than $1,000 cash at a time can be difficult; banks get suspicious about elder abuse. If your mother is still mobile and active, she can start withdrawing $500 cash every month for "personal expenses." Then she can gift that cash to whomever she desires.

Sushipup is correct about the gift tax. It does not affect the person getting the gift at all. If the gift value is over $13,000 (it's a federal limit, not state), then the giver must prepare a gift tax form for the IRS The giver has a one million dollar lifetime limit on gifts before having to pay a gift tax. The giver can give as many $13,000 gifts per year as he/she wants. Of course, the law changes from year to year. That's why it's important to talk with a CPA and probably an elder care attorney.

When you're talking about gifts in the thousands of dollars, it's important to have adequate guidance. A good elder care & estate planning attorney would be able to advise you & your mom as to the best way to proceed. When my mom was around 80, she set up her trust, wills, etc., with the help of an attorney, a CPA, and a financial advisor. They worked as a team to help draw up all the necessary legal documents and also guided her in managing her money. I was her only child, so I was involved with every step of the planning. The goal was to make sure she had adequate funds to provide care for her until her death. Her team knew the goals and took care of everything. She died last Novemember at 94 years old, and they're still working for her in settling her estate. Their help to my mother, and now to me, was and is invaluable.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

thanks, all

shambo: why did you use the amount $500.00 every month she can withdraw as cash - is their a limit? She recently withdrew $2,000.00 and went shopping - does that signal something?

BTW - she is not in bad health and is not near applying for Medicaid, but does withdraw cash from her personal savings (not her joint with husband) to buy whatever she wants - this money is being spent for herself - money that came as a surprise from a relative.

Thanks (sorry for all the questions)


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Just that the $500 is probably an amount that won't draw attention in a look-back examination by Medicaid. IOW, if she gives it to children (gift, not allowed) or spends it on the household (allowable), it would probably be too small to draw attention.

If she's habitually withdrawing $2000 a month, then she should funnel some of that (in cash) to her giftees, if she so desires. If the $2000 was a one-time thing, meant to spend on herself and she has new clothes to show for it, it'll probably be okay. If she suddenly made a change from averaging $200 cash every month for household expenses to $2000 a month in cash, it will probably draw attention.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

she withdrew 2000 twice and 500 once and I will tell her not to do that again - she doesn't charge and pays cash and this money was a gift to her to spend the way she wants - usually she doesn't spend... but hey, people can change, right? She's not nearly applying for medicaid at the moment, but you are right... constant withdrawals of 2000.00 does look "suspicious" even if it IS innocent.

Sorry, but none of us save receipts... do you? Should she? Gosh, this is getting a bit crazy - she won't save receipts - sometimes a family dinner out at a nice restaurant can cost 200.00 - who saves receipts?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Two things......

1) The limit for personal gifts without impinging upon personal unified credit limit (which doesn't exist this year) is $13,000. That has nothing to do with Medicaid considerations.

2) Everybody seems to be concerned with "spending down" requirements of medicaid. Well, duh! Of course it's a requirement! Why should the rest of us pony up for your care if you've got money of your own? Yes, Medicaid looks back! Yes they're diligent! As a taxpayer I WANT them to be! If you're giving away all your assets to your children and grandchildren and then expecting ME and my fellow taxpayers to take care of everything for you.....guess what! We resent it! We won't allow it! Is this some kind of surprise to you?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Ooops - she does NOT have a lot of money - Hope that my post did not insinuate that...

She received a few thousand from a relative - other than that, she does NOT have a lot of money

I am asking a lot of questions for others, not only for her - this is an interesting subject.. the "spend down" before Medicaid and I agree that those who have a lot, etc. etc. - what you said.

She does not have a LOT of money - by any means. But for once in her life, she is spending and having some fun with it. The post was made because of another's post that mentioned being careful about withdrawing large amounts - and my retort was that she, for once, is spending.

Hopefully everyone got that..

Carrie


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Sushipup was right. The reason my mother picked $500 was because it was not a suspicious amount. She could easily spend that much cash each month for groceries, hair, clothes shopping, etc. It would not make the tellers or any other bank personnel want to investigate further. Sometimes she'd withdraw $500 two or three times a month, especially around birthdays. She loved giving cash gifts to her grandchildren. But I must emphasize that my mother was concerned about the gift giving limits and their taxable consequences. She was not dealing with medicaid at all.

Carrie, my mom was a young woman during the Great Depression and always scrimped & saved. It was hard to get her to spend money on herself. She kept worrying about what she was going to leave me or my children. But we told her over & over again, that it didn't matter at all what was left for us. We wanted to make sure she was safe and comfortable and in good living conditions.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Today, I feel very good about my Mom. She is finally spending some money on herself... finally! Yes, she spent many years saving too - and now with my constant conversations to her about enjoying life and not worrying about money, it has worked.

She does, however, still have the mentality to keep saving, but hey I guess that's better than being careless and a spendthrift or even worse, a hoarder of junk! :0)

You are all so sweet to give some wonderful advice here.

Thanks - Carrie


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

the best advise i read in here is to use some of the money your mother got as a surprise and have a team work on her estate/ LTC planning. that way you will know the best for your state and financial situation. My mother started planning for Grandma's Projected State four years before she got to that state, and the whole family/clan is grateful she did.

Most Home Health Agencies around here have a person on staff to help answer these type of questions too. especially, if you plan to have a care provider a few hours a week to give what the gov. calls respite care (allows you four hours a week to schedule apts. or grocery shop without worrying over your loved one--or even leave town for 56 hours.)

If you have a favored agency come in for companionship once every couple weeks, or some other reason, you can have their resources at your disposal. Including an OT come in and evaluate/alter the home for accessibility. Even minor changes alow you to get familiar with their "low cost" handyman SVCS and show to Any agency or Investigating Body that you are doing the best you can to reasonably take care of the pt.

Another thing is: you better get in the habit of slipping receipts into your pocket and you being responsible for saving them.

This is just ADVISE from some one who has helped my mother take care of 6 of her family elders (none of which had children) and take care of my Daddy until we lost him. Not all of any advise is going to fit your situation, but some of the advise from every one might help a little.

Good luck on your journey of learning, every time you go through it is a little bit different.

l. marie


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

This is to asolo,
Are you young and single? solo. What would you have us do with the elderly? Do others have to have their lives ruined because an elderly family member needs care. Should we throw the elderly out in the street? I'm a fellow taxpayer and your day will come. You resent it, won't allow it? Duh, have I got news for you. You wouldn't believe what goes on under Medicaid. I have seen it myself.
Is this a surprise to you? Duh, maybe you should open your eyes and pay a little more attention on what's happening around you. There is abuse in everything. And I will tell you the honest ones usually come out on the loosing end while the cheaters and knivers come out on top.
Sorry you have so much disdain for your fellow man.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

lanthe....

The extent of your misunderstanding, presumption, and mischaracterization are astonishing.

Apparently you think Medicaid's job, in addition to caring for/paying for the patients needs of every kind, is also to preserve their estate for their heirs. I don't.

As to the rest of your blather, even the part that is coherent I regard as unworthy of reply.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I am a little confused -

I didn't get that asolo was doing anything but giving very good advice (to those of us who don't understand situations that could arise)...and I thank others for their input also.

I welcome any advice on this forum - I don't even HAVE parents near Medicaid, but find information useful as "you never know" and learning from others with experience is so much easier (plus trying to get information on the phone i.e. Medicaid offices, is nearly impossible).

I welcome any new information, but can't deal with the disputes..

Carrie


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

If you don't have anyone near Medicaid time, then a lot of information that you may get NOW, may be useless LATER. Medicaid makes new rulings frequently.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Thanks, agnes - Giving it a rest now that you reminded me that rules can change... I have learned a lot, though, on this forum... Thanks

carrie


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Wow! Didn't know this was such a sensitive forum.
Perhaps I should have elaborated more on my other post.
There are those who complain about helping others. I thought that was what we American's do. We can send money to other countries when things happen, which I'm not against, but we can't help our own?
Example: There was a couple a few doors away and the husband had to be put in a nursing home. She had paid quite a bit trying to keep her husband at home. Well because their house was worth more than what Medicaid allowed she had to sell it. Medicare took the money minus what she was allowed to keep. She also had to sell her car because she couldn't have one that was worth more than $4ooo. So she sold her car and bought a used one that is now breaking down all the time. She is in such dire straits now that many of the people who were her neighbors and friends are contibuting to help her with her rent, food, etc. She is such a sweet person in her 70's and is not a spendthrift in anyway. They had planned for such expense but the years he was in nursing home ate everything up. If their son was still alive he would never let his Mother be in such a state. They were a very close knit family. The husband passed away 6mos. ago. But here's what gets me. A social worker told her that now she would be eligible for Medicaid if the need arises. So Medicaid would be taking care of two people in effect instead of one. I don't begrudge her of it all but does it make sense.
I have been my husbands caretake for 10 yrs. and have had enough. know I'll get remarks about that, but for 35 of my 62 yrs. I have been taking care of someone. Aunts, Mother(how I wish she were still here), husband. I had a bad
horse back riding accident when I was 21 and now have arthritis in my back, neck & shoulders. Plus spinal stenosis. I just can't do anymore. So I will be putting husband in nursing home soon. Waiting for an opening. It's a good one. I learned that the inheritance I received from my Mother and Aunt would also have to be used to pay for husbands care. Even my house. It was my parents and I have lived her all my life. I can live in it for rest of my life but Medicaid would put lien on it so when it was sold they would collect anything owed them. I'm sorry butI don;t think this is right. My husbands name is not on the deed, he didn't pay the mortgage on this house my parents did. We have been married 38 yrs. and up until 10 yrs.ago my husbasnd worked two jobs. Didn't have to but he was one that couldn't sit still. We don't have any children so have saved a bit over the years.
I am putting my house and inheritance into an irrevocable trust and can live off the income it generates. This is perfectly legal. On some Medicaid websites they evern mention you can do it. At present the nursing home is $10,000 month and that's just room & board. This will get me over the 5 yr. look-back. What happens then happens. At least I've protected my house. I don't have relatives to leave anything to, so when I die house and contents plus everything else is going to non-profit charities that mean a lot to me and did to my Mother.
So that is my story. Don't think I'll be back. Not the right forum. I do like to help other people I know, if they need it. I'm not that stingy. Never know when you may need it.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I agree with asolo. Why should people spend down their assets in order to qualify for Medicare? Isn't that what they saved their money for? To care for them in their old age? Why should they give their money to their children and then expect us to pick up the tab? Use your own money, THEN go on Medicare.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Umm....we're talking about mediCAID, not mediCARE. Huge difference.

Medicare is basically government insurance -- you pay into it.

Medicaid is basically welfare -- they'll take care of you if you're broke.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Asolo, I think you've explained a common misconception. People often use the terms Medicare & Medicaid interchangeably. I know I did until I had to deal with my mother's finances, etc.

Just an example for those who are confused, my mom qualified for Medicare because she was over 65. However, she was NOT low income. She had investments that brought in regular income for her. So, no matter how old she got, she would never qualify for Medicaid.

Also, Medicare is a federal program while Medicaid is administered by the states.

While these programs do exist to help the elderly and the elderly poor, the government is under no obligation to insure that a person's heirs receive an inheritance. If an individual has savings, etc., it's not unreasonable for the government to require those funds be used first to pay nursing home costs before Medicaid kicks in. If children, neices, grandchildren, etc. are left without an inheritance, so be it.

But, first & foremost, anyone facing these kinds of issues should defintely consult an elder care attorney. Do not try to deal with Medicare or Medicaid on your own. You might end up doing something you'll regret and something that was not necessary. When my dad was in a convalescent hospital, my mom contacted a wonderful attorney who walked her through all the steps needed to ensure my father could stay in the facility as long as necessary while my mother could continue living in their home. Having a good lawer makes a world of difference. Sure, it costs money, but, in my estimation, it is definitely worth it.

From a government website:

While Medicaid and Medicare sound similar, they are in fact very different programs. One of the biggest differences is Medicaid is a state governed program and Medicare is a federal governed program. Here are some other differences:
Medicaid is for low income:

•Pregnant women
•Children under the age of 19
•People 65 and over
•People who are blind
•People who are disabled
•People who need nursing home care
Application for Medicaid is at the State's Medicaid agency.

Medicare is for:

•People 65 and over
•People of any age who have kidney failure or long term kidney disease
•People who are permanently disabled and cannot work
Medicare is applied for at the local Social Security office.

Some people qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, Medicaid is sometimes used to help pay for Medicare premiums. People who qualify for both programs are called 'dual eligible'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Medicare


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Thanks for posting this, shambo.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Oops! I forgot to mention that when my dad was in that convalescent hospital, he was 91 and my mom was 73. Both were on Social Security. That's all they had. It was years later, after my dad died, that my mother was able to invest in a family business that provided her with additional income.

Didn't want anyone to think that she & her lawyer were bilking the government. She & my dad had no assets other than a car & a mobile home. But the attorney guided her through the entire Medicaid process. As I said before, it cost money but was worth it. She gained the peace of mind knowing that she could stay put in their home and my dad could stay put in a very nice facility. And if anything came up, she knew who to contact. She had an advocate who was looking after her best interests.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I do know that one can not own a house or any property.You used to be able to give it to your children before going into a nursing home.Now you can not have any property for 6 yrs prior to having to go in a nursing home.I have also heard the Obama care is going to make it extremely hard for the elderly.Heard that today and am not sure what its going to change.I know they have not gotten a raise in 2 yrs b ut he gave away 757 billion in stimulus..o well...a person can not have more that $3000 on medicare and medicaid.Can not have any life insurance,no burial plot,nothing,,,


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

You can own a home, but the state will place a lien against it for the amount you may owe at the time of your death. There are also ways to protect a surviving spouse's financial interest, or a dependent child's. Please consult an attorney who specializes in Medicaid planning before taking the advice of anyone on an anonymous website.

So, to Moonphase, you might be interested in the Hot Topics forum, which is for political discussions.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I want to chime in to agree with what sushipup has said. With the help of a competant attorney, you can discover ways to protect assets for spouses or dependent children. A lot of these horror stories are the result of people trying to handle matters themselves or following the advice of friends & relatives. You really need the help of someone in the know, and that's a lawyer. There's no substitute.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Moonphase, people "hear" a lot of things. And a lot of it's bunk, pure and simple. A lot of unsubstantiated rumors could be easily put to rest if people would learn how to use the power of the Internet to do real research.

Shambo and sushipup have it right. Medicaid rules change quite frequently because states make the rules. So information essential to someone in one state may have little relevancy to someone living in a different state. For an accurate action plan, a local attorney who specializes in seniors law, and/or an eldercare advisor, is essential assistance.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Give your money away, then I will be supporting you until the day you die. Would you want to do that for me if you knew I did have it and gave it to my kids?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Like brownthumbia and others, I resent deliberate spend downs to take advantage of "the system". But you can take heart in knowing a lot of folks don't do their homework and are much surprised when the government comes after them for repayment. Besides, nursing homes and long term care facilities do a financial screening too.

Don't know where moonphase gets his/her information - must learn the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. And no burial plot?! Good Lord, under either program you don't have to be planted in a Potters' Field.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I look at it this way---if you want your parents' money so bad, then you take them into your own home and take care of them there. Give yourself a FAIR allowance after buying everything they need. It is theirs to spend, not yours.Isn't it worth something to know they are being cared for by professional caregivers 24 hours a day? Bathing, feeding if necessary, toileting, keeping them dry and clean,putting them to bed, getting them up, keeping their spirits up, and on and on. They never become a burden to us. We're simply doing our job.
If it becomes necessary to put them in a nursing home be sure you stock up on things SHE will need there, pay what's left to the nursing home and sleep well. Don't forget in a lot of states you are allowed to keep enough back for a burial. Don't forget to do that also.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Ive been watching this post for a while--so many different opinions! My MIL has been with us for a little over 3 years now--dememtia. I quit my job over 2 years ago to care for her (she was setting the house on fire trying to cook). She came to us with about ten thousand in a bank account--when her husband passed his funeral was more than his life insurance. She has a SS check and a small monthly pension. I don't get paid....although I can be reimbursed for anything that I have purchased for her. She has medicare and a pretty good suplimental insurance policy. Her home was put in my husbands name over 10 years ago--we are responcible for taxes and insurance and maintenence. We have her POA and all the other legal stuff in order ( I insisted when she first moved in--best move we ever made--she would have given everything plus what she didn't have to TV preachers by now). Now..My husband and I have depleted our savings, my loss of income is killing us, and I pray that I don't get sick because I have also lost my insurance. Believe me, we are not in this for the money. We have put her house on the market, but the housing market at the moment--well it sucks. Right now, our focus is on making what she has LAST..we worry that she will need something and medicare or her insurance will not cover it. We worry about her out living what she has. Lord knows we are strapped finacially and couldn't afford to do much if anything. The money from the sale of her house (if it sells) will be put in a fund slated for her care. She has a whopping 3 thousand dollar life insurance policy, so funeral expences would have to be considered. There are so many little things that she requires that are not covered by medicare or insurance--and even with both of those she is still out of pocket for meds and Dr. visits and blood work. She takes 19 different medications--some 40 cents and some as high as 50 bucks. Her medications alone are over 300 bucks a month and rising. Throw in depends, creams, lotions, diabetic socks, and the billion other things, there isn't much left. My thought is to use her money for her--I'm in the trenches here folks and the thought of spending down just so I'll "have" something when this is all said and done is unthinkable. My focus is providing the best care I can, either here or in a nursing home. Thats what her money is for--it's her's. Maybe my thoughts would be different if she had a lot of money and I'm not judging anyone else for thinking different. This is just the way the situation is for us.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

There's a big difference between providing some security for spouses & dependent children and leaving an inheritance for able-bodied, of-age family members. As I indicated earlier, when my dad broke his hip & was no longer able to get around, my mom had to place him in a convalescent hospital. She tried for a couple of months but was unable to care for him at home. The help she received from her lawyer was to make sure he could stay in the facility and she could stay in her home. That's an example of providing for an elderly spouse.

I wasn't a beneficiary of any of the decisions. Everything was done soley to ensure care for both my mom & my dad. I was married, was a teacher, and could take care of myself.

I think sometimes problems arise when family members forget who the money, possessions, homes, etc. are supposed to benefit. None of it is a guaranteed inheritance. It's for the benefit of the one to whom it belongs, the one who worked & saved for it. For their care alone. And that care can take many forms -- living in a adult chld's home, living in a nursing home, living at the family home with aids coming in regularly...


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

To go back a bit, I think it's wise to be aware of all the rules involved here.

Here's one scenario. Say that Grammy has $100,000 in a savings account, is healthy, and covers her day-to-day rent and expenses with her SS and retirement income. Grammy has 4 kids. She decides to give each $13,000 for Christmas. But the first of January, something terrible happens to Grammy and she winds up totally incapacitated. She can never return to her home, and will be under nursing care for the rest of her life. She has $2000 a month income and $48,000 in savings. After her Medicare eligibility and co-pay are used up, she will owe $8000 a month for the nursing home. In order to become eligible for Medicaid, the $48000 will be spent. At that time, the $52000 that she gifted her children last Christmas will be considered her money, and the government will ask for it back to use for her care until it is gone. At that point, after the children have paid back the $52000 for Grammy's care, and that has been used up, then she will be eligible for Medicaid.

Now, are her children prepared to give back the $13000 each that they got last year?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

falldown, know this, I truly believe there is a special plaee in Heaven for you. I really hope taking care of your MIL is not the reason you are having such a terrible financial time now. No way do I think children need to spend themselves into poverty to care for their parents. Was there some reason she wasn't put in a nursing home before it got this bad for you? It's the ones who do all they can to keep their inheritence while WE are supporting their parent while they go traveling around the country in a brand new car, or whatever they do with the money. My goodness, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and should be very proud of yourself. I admire you and I hope with all my heart that things turn around for you and very soon. It's obvious you need an overdue break.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Sushipup, that's the $64,000 question. Or should I say, in the case of your example, the $52,000 question. That's why it's so important to talk to a qualified estate/elder care attorney BEFORE doing anything with any elder's money. Never rely on what others may tell you, what you might hear on the TV or radio, what you might read in magazines or on internet forums, etc. Each person's situation is unique and you need advice for your own particular situation. And just when you think you might actually understand all the intricacies, the law may change. Again, that's why a good attorney is so helpful. They keep abreast of all the latest legalities and can advise you accordingly.


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when are monetary gifts okay?

I know absolutely nothing about the law but this is the way I feel---if a person is in good health and they wish to give money as a gift, and then get sick they are not trying to gyp the public and I would hope the kids could keep the gifts. If however they (the person themselves or the family) know in advance that things are changing for the worse I would think the money should be returned. I don't think it would be hard to find out what was going on, how severe, and when, by talking to the dr. to see exactly when the problems developed. I realize not just anyone can get that info from the dr. but I'm not so sure the government could not find out. JMOO but to me there is a huge difference.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

There is a 5 year look-back period to qualify for Medicaid. Intention doesn't matter. So my example is a warning for just this sort of story. So just saying, "Gee, Grammy didn't KNOW that she would be hit by a car on January 1, so she should be able to give away her money." Nope, doesn't work that way with the look-back period.

Honestly, I can't tell you if your example is okay or not, or if my first example is correct or not. But I understand that the look-back process can show no mercy, and especially in these days of revenue shortages, when some states think they shouldn't have to provide a share of Medicaid at all, well, I think the rules will only get tighter.

The rule is, don't assume.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

It's truly a complicated thing and I just want people to know that there are loving people ready and able to care for your loved ones. Be fair to the rest of us,we may have our own to care for one day. If your family member needs assistance, I would be the last one to deny them that.
For a happier note now, HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

fallingdown, your statement about "all the money from the house sale proceeds will go to MIL's care" - I hope you have consulted a tax advisor about possible capital gains consequences? It sounds like your financial situation is straitened, but the last thing you two need would be a tax bill on the sale of the house proceeds.

Depending on when your DH received the house, you may well have a capital loss instead...but in either scenario, I think you want to be prepared ahead of time, rather than receive a nasty surprise when you file your taxes in the future.

Best of luck to you in a difficult situation. And I second brownthumbia's "Happy Thanksgiving to all!"


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

The house that was put in husband's name 10 years ago and the possible tax implications of its sale notwithstanding...fallingdown's MIL is exactly the person Medicaid was designed to help.

We put our loved ones in nursing homes because there comes a time when we have to, because they require more help than we can provide. It's not for lack of love or caring. But it is gut wrenching and one of the hardest things to ever have to do.

Your MIL came to you with a pension, SS, and about 10k - you're using that for her care, medications, etc. Even with the infusion of the small pension and SS, trying to stretch 10k for a lifetime simply cannot be done. Your situation could never be misconstrued as a spend down. And in a sense, I don't think you're being fair to you and your husband in impoverishing yourselves.

A nursing home would take whatever is left of the 10k, as well as her pension, and her SS - Medicaid would pick up the tab for the shortfall. They would take care of medical bills, medications, etc.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I suggest talking to a lawyer and putting everything into a trust. The trust then becomes untouchable..not positive on the time frame but many people are doing this esp when they retire.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Sorry mommy but a trust doesn't guarantee protection of your assets so you can go on Medicaid. Your trust and the assets in it will pay for your long term care. If you exhaust the funds in the trust, then you qualify for Medicaid.

The look back time frame is 5 years - and they're not kidding.

Yes, many retired people do have trusts - generally the revocable living trusts (as opposed to irrevocable). Many people with assets in trust will be using those assets for their future care. In other words, they want to pay their own way... and heirs will get what's left, if anything.

No one should ever downplay the value of good legal counsel. It will cost something in the beginning, but it beats downloading forms off the internet, clicking your heels three times repeating, "I hope this works out".


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Duluth, said it all in her last paragraph. Good legal counsel is necessary when dealing with an elderly person's assets. By the time you hit 65, you should have your estate and elder care planning done. Use a qualified lawyer. Go to your county agency on aging. Many of them supply legal counsel free of charge or at a minimum cost. Contact AARP; they also can get you in contact with qualified attorneys.

Do not depend on what others may say, what you think is fair & reasonable, what you read in the papers, etc.

And plan ahead for the time when you might actually need placement in a nursing home. Don't assume that because you're healthy at 65 that you'll still be spry at 85.

There is nothing unfair about the 5 year look back period. Your money is yours, to do with as you wish. You can spend it on yourself or give it away to realtives. No problem. But... Medicaid has certain restrictions. If you want to participate, then you must follow the rules. It's that simple.

Similar to parents and their high school graduates. You're 18, an adult, and you can go your way. Or you can attend college. We'll pay for your tuition, books, car, gasoline, & cell phone. You can live at home free of charge & we'll feed you. However, you MUST maintain a B minus grade point average and abide by our curfew restrictions. Take it or leave it. Do we have a deal?

That's what the Medicaid requirements are basically saying. If you want the state to house you, feed you, care for you, then you must abide by its rules. There really is no unfairness. But the elderly and their families need to be aware of the requirements. That's why getting legal counsel is so important.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

>>I suggest talking to a lawyer and putting everything into a trust. The trust then becomes untouchable>>

As Duluth says, NOT TRUE. A trust allows one to save money on probate expenses. A standard Revocable Living Trust merely passes assets to heirs more quickly than probate. It will not hide assets from Medicaid.

In order to protect assets from Medicaid, you would need to set up an Irrevocable Trust - meaning you lose ownership of all assets in the Trust. AND, the 5-yr look-back still applies, something many people don't realize.

It doesn't matter if you currently fulfill the provisions mentioned below, but only three years later end up with a medical emergency that causes you to become disabled, needing permanent nursing care. In the eyes of Medicaid, you would have failed the 5-yr look-back, even if through no fault of your own.

No one should ever set up an Irrevocable Trust without careful consideration and the help of a good, ethical attorney.

From the link posted below:
"....the only way you can be sure your Medicaid Trust will "work" is if you transfer your assets to an irrevocable trust (managed by an unrelated trustee) at least five years before applying for Medicaid -- and at a time when you had no anticipation of needing Medicaid coverage.

Essentially, to be sure you will qualify for Medicaid, you have to give your assets away for some reason unrelated to future Medicaid coverage. That's pretty tough medicine in most cases."

Here is a link that might be useful: Can Medicaid trusts withstand scrutiny or not?


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I certainly didn't mean to imply that spending down was evil or wrong and I appologize if I offended anyone. I can certainly see when it would be the right thing to do. My husband and I have sought legal advice about the taxes from the sale of my MIL's house and are aware and have made provisions for it. My husband and I are both nurses and feel we are well equiped for most anything, but realize there may come a day when it will be in her best interest to place her in a care facility. We are doing this because we feel this is the right thing to do--for us and her. Yes, this has killed us financially, it's stressed us out, it's literally rocked my world....but..if I could go back in time...I would do it again. She is by no means the same woman she was two years ago...but I love what I got, and sometimes that has to be enough.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Falldown, there's no need to apologize for anything. We're all sympathetic to your situation. This has been a really good discussion. You can tell from all the responses that there are several opinions and also some mis-information. It's important to think ahead about these things and do adequate research. That's why so many of us harp on getting qualified legal counsel. The Medicaid laws can be confusing, to say the least. And you need accurate information -- not 2nd or 3rd hand stories.

It's also important to remember every person's situation is unique. What works for one family may not work for another. And situations change and require new perspectives. There are all kinds of options available for elder care -- aging at home with the help of aids, assisted living facilities, moving in with a family member, board & care homes, skilled nursing facilities, memory care facilities, continuing care facilities, etc. Sometimes a loved one ends up using two or more of these options. Each family struggles to make the best decisions for their loved ones. None of this is easy.

But all the options require finances of some sort and all of them have legal implications. That's where planning with an attorney and financial advisor come into play.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Thanks Shambo, you are so right about seeking legal advice. That is one of the first things we did with my MIL and it was the best first step we could have taken...I certainly urge anyone who is a caregiver to educate themselves and not be afraid to ask questions. Caregiving is hard enough with out the added stress and fear of a financial mess up.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

Shambo is right. Follow the rules.


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

I have a question if any one knows the answer. I am POA for my mom who is on Medicaid now. She had to spend down her assests and allowed to keep 13500 by law. (This may have gone up since she became elligible. I need to know what happens to this money now. Can she use it as she wishes IE: give it away or do whatever she sees fit. And when she passes can MCaid come back and try to seize it. If I put it into a Joint account then could Mcaid still come after it even though now it is coowned. Just looking at options and to know exactly what choices I can make legally. Right now the only monies taken out of her account were for her needs at the nursing home. (tv, clothes, air conditioner for her room)


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RE: Another question about depleting assets

She cannot give away large sums of money, the last I heard it was 5 years before. You need to check with the SRS.


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