Expenses incurred in the ordinary course of business or for necessities of life are not considered in making Medicaid decisions. Nor are nominal gifts. The state's concern is that the participant is attempting to divest substantial assets to her heirs, and thereby effectively retain the estate, while receiving free benefits from the government.
A couple of thousand dollars worth of gifts is not likely to get any attention. If the total amount of gifts exceeds $5,000 during any year, someone is likely to take notice. Though, there is no absolute number -- I'm using $5,000 as a point where the cost of recovery may become less than the amount recovered.
Note: I just want to say that I empathize with your situation, because I have a parent in similar circumstances. End-of-life care is devastatingly expensive.
Hope this helps.
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