A Wisconsin appeals court rules that a Medicaid applicant who transferred funds to her children, who then put them in an irrevocable trust for her benefit, is ineligible for Medicaid because the trust is an available asset under state law, even though the transfer occurred 17 years before she applied for Medicaid.
Oftentimes, Medicaid and Medicare can be entirely necessary programs. They also can be pretty tricky to navigate, especially if you, or a loved one, fall just above the income limits. That said, Medicare and Medicaid don’t like it when they feel you are “gaming” the system. Elder Law Answers highlights yet another case in which an elderly person was denied benefits because of improper planning.
The case in question is Hedlund v. Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services (Wis. Ct. App., No. 2010AP3070, Oct. 13, 2011). Lucille Hedlund was a Medicaid applicant who was denied benefits because she also was a beneficiary to an irrevocable trust that qualifies as an available asset, bringing her above the income threshold. It didn’t matter that the trust has been set up 17 years ago, especially because of the circumstances.
Mrs. Hedlund transferred all of her assets to her children in June 1991, with the exception of a checking account. And, on the very same day, her children put those very same assets into an irrevocable trust and named her as beneficiary. While this was pretty sneaky, it was not enough to give Medicaid the slip.
Medicaid ruled that there was reason to infer that Mrs. Hedlund had directed her children to create and fund the irrevocable trust because the plan was effected on the same day. Note: It didn’t even matter that the assets weren’t hers at the time the trust was created, since they were still “available assets” in the eyes of the court … some 17 years later when Mrs. Hedlund entered a nursing home in 2008.
Applications for Medicare and Medicaid are important and should not be taken lightly. If you, or a loved one, need to make plans for long-term care, then you need to seek competent legal counsel before you apply.
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Reference: Elder Law Answers (October 14, 2011) “Irrevocable Trust Set Up by Medicaid Applicant’s Children is Available Asset”