My mother wishes to spend down her windfall and still be able to continue in the Medicaid program. She is not in a nursing home.

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So what kind of 88 yr old is your mom?
She’s still living at home on her own right?
realistically is she likely good another 3 -5 yrs at home?

Her Medicaid, I’m guessing is community based Medicaid?
So she is eligible as she’s low income. Like between her SS and any other income, she’s below or close to poverty line so qualifies for community based Medicaid. She is a “dual” so on MediCARE and Medicaid. Lots of folks are duals.

The issue will be IF the inheritance takes her over the pretty strict low income & asset requirements for community based Medicaid. Your states Medicaid website should have this info. I will caution you on this that you are going to read all sorts of articles on the $ amounts for LTC medicaid (LTC like for those in a NH or AL) which are usually no more than 2k in nonexempt assets. BUT community based will allow for lots more $$, so you need to find out that exact figure ASAP for community based and what the maximum value for a car as an asset is. Sunnygirl mentioned 35k, but it’s all going to depend on your state. Some have it that value cannot be over 18k. If you think mom will be out shopping, going to church, visiting family, going to beauty shoppe for another 3-5 years driving a better used car totally makes sense. You don’t want her stranded at WalMART cause that 1985 Oldsmobile finally died....

How much is the inheritance?
10-30k to me you could - with some careful planning - totally deal with and be ok for Medicaid. But over 30/35k that’s going to take her over the income asset limit for Medicaid eligibility to deal with on your own.

Medicaid requires that they are to be informed of any financial change within 30-60 days of receiving the $. The states Medicaid website should have the details. Imo the receiving date of the $ is super important. So how much $$$ are you talking about?

Let’s say mom is to get $31k & your state allows car value at 20k. If you can ask the Executor to wait for the distribution to your mom to happen like on the 3rd of the month and you have a plan in place to spend all 31k within 2 weeks. So she buys a car in full for 15k, pays full year auto insurance 1k, then buys a fully paid preneed Medicaid compliant funeral & burial for like 10k (this too will have a maximum value allowed by Medicaid), she pays ahead her homeowners insurance (they do this at the same time they do her auto policy) say 1k. So it’s now 31 - 27= 4k left. So she buys new eyeglasses and hearing aids (1-2k) and gets some dental work done $. Presto! all $31k spent in 2 or 3 weeks. She starts her month on the 1st within Medicaid limits and ends her month within Medicaid limits. All spending is clearly for her home, her needs &/or her health. If her state Medicaid allows her to have a small savings amount and still be ok for community based Medicaid, I’d hold some $ back to have an emergency fund. I’d have this all planned out, even get funeral preneed just waiting on signature and $ and speak with her Medicaid caseworker. She starts her month exactly as it is now and ends it exactly as it is now; no change in status.

If shes living on her on her own and likely to continue to do so, buying a newer more dependable used car for a reasonable amount totally can make sense.

Absolutely no gifting to others, no buying stuff for others, no placing anyone elses name on the car title.

As an aside on this, my mom - Lewy Body Dementia - drove till into her 90’s. And in her late 80’s had rotor cuff surgery repair. She had PT for weeks after surgery. I live in another state and stayed a couple of weeks post surgery but had to get back home. So a home health agency was hired for 3-4 days a week after I left. The caregiver drove her to PT 3 times a week plus other medical follow up appointments. The agency required my mom’s car to be driven by the caregiver for trips to PT, doctors visits, etc. Caregiver could NOT use their car. Had mom not had a car, the cab costs would have really racked up.
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Don’t know why she would need a car if she is in a NH?

I would think from the responses i have seen here that any financial “windfall” involving cash and assets must be spent on her care in the nursing home if your mother is on NH Medicaid. That money will need to go to reimburse Medicaid first.

Her inheritance may effect her Medicaid NH status until the money is spent down. Medicaid will want that money and is entitled to it if Medicaid is currently paying for her care in a nursing home.
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Check with an expert, but, I'd explore the max value for an exempt car. In my area, I think $35,000. is the max. It can become complicated, so, I'd get expert advice before making large purchases or even accepting the windfall.
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Medicaid for her insurance, homecare?

Your profile says Mom is 88 and has Dementia/ALZ what does she need a car for? If she is driving now, she won't be eventually. I would not fool with Medicaid. My Aunt was on SSI and Medicaid. She withdrew $500 from her bank acct to fix her car and Medicaid questioned the deduction.
If Mom received a windfall, Medicaid should be made aware. She can afford all or part of her care if getting homecare or insurance. If they are not informed and find out, this could be considered fraud.
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In the meantime, use the searchbar to find here on AC forum:
"Medicaid vs. Inheritance"
K. Gabriel Heiser
Medicaid Secrets
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I don't have a good answer, but know that someone will wake up and come on over to give you an answer.

Medicaid is for low income but a car is an allowed asset, I believe. Your Mom would need to afford the registration and upkeep. But you likely already know that.

Working within the guidelines of the system which provides benefits is a good idea, so you are right to ask this question. There may be differences if your Mom is on Social Security, or also has SSI. You will be required to report the income, however, wait up, there are options in the way of trusts or something like that.
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