How can my mom protect her assets from being seized by Medicare if she needs long term care?

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How can my mom protect her assets from being seized by Medicare if she needs long term care?

My mother is 48 years old and on disability with pancreatic cancer in remission. She is recently widowed with 3 properties, in addition to her primary residence and a vehicle. She is eligible for Medicare in 4 months. She is wondering the best way to protect her assets from being seized if she were to become ill again and need nursing home care? We have heard about revokable trusts but are unsure if that would protect the property. She has also thought of putting the properties in mine and my sister’s name with hers on the deed as well so that she will only be 1/3 owner and hopefully won’t make it eligible for seizure but we don’t know if that would work either. She also does not want to give up any control of her assets and does not want to have to “ask permission” to change her assets. What option would be best for this scenario?

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Insurance Law, Tennessee

Answers:

Sharon Siegel / Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your mother should speak with an attorney about creating a supplemental needs trust.   It protects assets when someone is on governement assistance or can make someone qualify for government assistance. This trust is irrevocable, which would mean she would have to give up some of her control.  This is a common issue.  However, if she does not give up control and she needs medical help, the first thing they will do is take her assets.   Perhpas there is a comprise position that your mother would feel comfortable with.  For example, in NY, you are allowed one home exemption if you live in it and get government benefits.  Thus, perhaps this sense of control would balance with placing other assets into an irrevocable trust.  A revocable trust does not accomplish the goal of protecting assets, although it does give control.  It is really useless in your situation.  I would suggest that you consul a lawyer.  Sometimes sitting down with a lawyer gives a different perspective to things. Sharon M. Siegel, Esq. of Siegel & Siegel, P.C.


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