My mother is 90 years old, resides independently in El Paso, Texas. She receives SS and my dad's gov't pension as survivor. She also has $100,000 in CDs. My Down's syndrome brother of 51 also still lives with her. Monthly income for my mother is approximately $2000- 2200. My brother receives an addition $400 or so from SS. Her home is paid for and in a Lady Bird trust. What is the best means of protecting her money before she needs nursing home care?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Texas
Nothing since she is in good health. I've been dealing with all medical and financial issues since my dad passed away in May2011. I have POA for all of her affairs and guardianship over my brother. I reside in Virginia.
Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer.
That is a difficult question as it depends ultimately on what her income will be at the time she goes in to the nursing facility and how long between now and then she has. One of the easiest ways to protect assets is to transfer them to a non-spouse family member so that the person going in to nursing care does not have any assets and is more likely to qualify for medicaid, which covers some, if not all of the nursing care costs for people of limited means.
However, there is what is referred to as a "look-back" period of 60 months, during which the government can go back and seek to claim any assets transferred during that 60 month period prior to entering the nursing care facility.
In the alternative, transfers of assets during the look-back period can disqualify the individual for medicaid funding for a duration dependent on the value of the assets transferred (the greater the value, the longer the disqualification).
There are some assets that are exempt from the look-back period. The most relevant here is probably the home, for which there appears to be an Exemption up to $500,000, so long as the individual has the intention of returning home (Even if it never actually happens). Plus, so long as the trust is older than 60 months prior to the date she enters the home, this transfer of the asset should not trigger the disqualifying period.
As for the cash in CDs, she could certainly transfer this to a family member now, but it would likely trigger the disqualifying period unless she does not enter a nursing home for 5 years.
Funds put in to a funeral trust are also exempt, but only within reason (so, for example, a funeral trust set up with $100,000 probably would not pass muster).
Ultimately, it is very difficult to avoid having to use funds or assets not transferred outside of 5 years prior to the time the individual enters full time nursing care. Taking things out of her name is XXX XXX to do it, but the look-back period does make this harder, and is why it is a good idea to start planning for this eventuality well before it might be needed (difficult to do, I know).
Reviewing all of the assets with an elder law attorney in person in Texas is also a good idea, as they may have further suggestions for you. The Texas State Bar Association maintains a lawyer referral service at:
I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any further questions.
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