My aunt will be going into assisted living. She has $8,000 in life insurance, owns a home worth $80,000, and has cash of about $27,000. She lives in Wisconsin. On the cash portion, can she gift it out to her relatives and what is the max gift she can give. We want her to have cash available for clothing, household goods, foods she wants, etc while living in assisted living. Is gift giving legal?

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BE CAREFUL! Unless she is able to pay all the costs of Assisted Living on her own, the assets she has may have to be turned over to the state as advanced payment for her care because the State then underwrites her stay as long as she lives there. If she were to "gift" the cash, there may be a 5-year clawback meaning the State can reclaim the "gift" if her assets run out and she is still in Assisted Living during that 5-year period. In such a case the State could force you to pay back that "gift money" even if you already spent it. Best to consult an Elder Law Attorney in your state before any money is paid out to anyone--even the company that runs the Assisted Living Facility. And an additional word of advice: make sure the Attorney you work with is on your side. It is not uncommon for Institutions to offer legal assistance to prospective residents so thay "don't have to worry about all that fine print in the agreement" After everything is signed you find out that your Aunt not only signed away her entire estate to the Institution but may have given them permission to claim any personal property (antique furniture etc) that you thought she had promised to you.

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