One of the most important things that people usually think about and should prepare for when they are getting older is how they will take care of themselves, their family, and their properties if they get very sick and may require he services of a nursing home. The main issue frequently considered is how they will spend or pay for the cost of long term care in nursing homes. This type of medical care can be very expensive and can even force some people to use or sell their assets for them to be able to afford nursing home care. They can prepare for this unlikely event in the future by making arrangements to protect their assets, such as legally transferring it to a different owner. This process is often referred to as Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts.
Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts can be arranged by individuals who are of retirement or near that age group. This type of trust involves the transfer of the control or ownership of assets of an individual to another person. These transfers must be made 5 years before an individual applies for Medicaid assistance. The assets of a person who is trying to get Medicaid benefits can still be claimed by Medicaid for remuneration of nursing home costs if the transfer was made in less than 5 years. This 5 year period is called the look-back period. The look-back period was formerly set at 3 years, but it was changed when new regulations and guidelines were set by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as required by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. These new rules mandate that individual states must comply with new restrictions on assets transfers of elderly people who are trying to qualify for Medicaid benefits for nursing home care.
An individual can be well prepared for nursing home care and Medicaid spend down by making arrangements while they are still healthy. Medicaid asset protection trusts can be done and people typically choose their children, if they have any, as the trustees. The assets will be kept in the Medicaid asset protection trust and will only be turned over to the trustees when the grantor of the trust passes away. If the assets are moved or transferred while the grantor is still alive, this may disqualify them from Medicaid benefits or the assets can be claimed by Medicaid for remuneration of costs.
If Medicaid asset protection trusts were properly put in place and transfers were done before the lookback period, any income or profit that comes from these assets can be used for the upkeep of properties and payment of taxes.
Many people choose to employ a type of Medicaid asset protection trust called irrevocable trusts. This is where the grantor of the trust relinquishes control of their assets to a separate individual. This person, or trustee, will handle the assets on the grantors behalf and make sure the assets are well taken care of. The trustee must look after the assets and invest them according to agreements made with the grantor. The trustee cannot use the assets for his or her own personal gain.