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Hi,
I became POA for my dad in July after a medical emergency, and then he has been in my care since September as he can no longer live independently. I bought siblings, my kids and all other grandkids Christmas gifts (as my parents have always done) in December at Dad’s direction, with his credit card, and my son’s birthday present, again at Dad’s direction, in March. Because of Medicaid look back , I can’t actually give anyone gifts even if he is wanting me to and I have gifting power as POA, right? I was thrown into this POA at the time, and didn’t realize all the different implications, but do I need to go back and figure all this out and pay it back (probably $1500 total)? Obviously I won’t do it anymore!!


And he has always, for years, taken us out to dinner once a month; since COVID and him becoming bedbound, it’s been me picking up carryout once a month, but he can’t do that either, right? I can’t use his money for anything that’s not solely for his personal benefit because of Medicaid? I’m not upset I just want to make sure from here on out I’m doing this right! Thank you!

I think the gifting has to be above a certain amount and this amount might differ from state to state. I don't think $1500 is anything to sweat as long as you pay it back and keep a clear paper trail. This goes for his living expenses. Keeping records of everything will be very important. Please read the PoA document carefully and know what the Medicaid parameters are (call them if you must and contact your dad's attorney who helped create the PoA to ask questions). You shouldn't co-mingle your funds with his, or give/receive property or assets as well as cash. Medicare is national but Medicaid is state managed, so you do need to know the rules for your dad's state.

Also, the PoA role is in effect when the assignee is incapacitated (and the document will state whether it's durable or springing). But you were within your bounds in this event since your dad gave his permission and you don't say he is actually incapacitated.

My MIL is in LTC and she has us purchase small gifts for her grandkids and great-grand kids, like $20 here and there. She's been on Medicaid since 2016 and it's never been an issue.
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Reply to Geaton777
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No, your Dad is allowed to give Christmas presents. The problem is that you are not keeping records. That is crucial to being POA. You must keep meticulous records of Dad's expenditures for every penny out and every penny into his accounts. A monthly accounting. Then it would be a folder for receipts and for every expense. For instance
Assets in: March 2020
Social Security xxx.xx
Pension xxx.xx
Assets out: March 2020
Rental xxx.xx
Christmas present xx.xx
Food xx.xx
Repair tub xx.xx

And this goes in a folder. Nothing fancy. Just keeping paying as John Doe by Christine Doe as POA on checks, and accounts kept clean and separate.
No big payments, ie for college, down payments on phones and so on. Those are gifting and will count against him for medicaid.
If you don't understand your duties as POA it is CRUCIAL that you learn them. Go to an Elder Law Attorney if you must (Your Dad's estate pays for that as well). Or get books and plumb the internet.
I knew nothing when I started doing this for my bro. I learned FAST.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Carolann2244 Apr 6, 2021
Yup thank GOD for this site!! I had no idea. Co-mingling funds stops now, and I’ve already set up a folder system and spreadsheet for receipts and records from here on out. Everything else I’ve bought with his CC was meds or needed personal items or safety items (like a bed rail, door alarm, incontinence underwear before he got the catheter, ect) so I’m not worried about that, but I will be tracking everything from here on out! Thank you!
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I should think if you bought all the gifts with dad's permission, it should be okay. As others noted, make a record of it. The credit card receipts and/or statements would show what was spent. If you didn't keep the actual receipts, hopefully it wasn't all bought at once. $1500 spent in one whack may raise questions, but given it was around Xmas and likely spent here and there, it would be easier to justify. If you don't have the receipts, print or save the credit card statement and try to remember the cost of each item and who it was for. If you can't recall the cost, look up the items now for estimated cost.

Being POA is a big challenge and one must be responsible. Buying items he needs, like medication, medical devices, or even the briefs are fine. They are necessities. BUT, the whole idea is you are being charged to handle his finances as if you WERE him, within reason. Obviously if he asked you to go out and buy a boat, that wouldn't be a responsible thing to do! Knowing he liked to give gifts, etc means you were not only doing what he used to do, but what he requested you to do. Just keep the spending to a minimum. He will need his assets for some time to come.

Unless someone from Medicaid or an EC atty suggests it all be paid back, I would not do that. The WORST case would be his assets would have to cover that $1500 of facility care before Medicaid kicks in. They won't deny him coverage for that, just delays it.

For instance, if he DID buy a boat, say for $20,000, then he would have to cover the first $20k of facility care before they would start paying. They don't ask for it to be paid back.

Just keep good records going forward.

BTW, he's likely getting SS. Legally SS requires that anyone who handles the SS funds of another needs to apply to be Rep Payee. A call to your local office can set up an appointment - likely will be a phone appointment. Even if they are open, your dad does NOT have to be there. They ask questions, fill in the request and send it off. It may take a few weeks to get approved. It isn't a big deal. You do need to keep good records as they require yearly reporting. The report isn't much, a page or so sent in the mail, but it can be done online through your own SS acct. The first check, once approved, will come as a check. Then you'd have to set up a special Rep Payee account, which only you can access. Once that is ready, you call the local office again and require electronic payment, giving them the bank information.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Don't worry about $1500. I just went through all this in the last 3 years with my mother. You need to see a Medicaid Attorney (not an Elder care Attorney) right away. Not because you've done anything wrong, because you haven't, but because you want to know what's in store as POA and your continuing hands on with your father and his finances. Don't be scared of this, the more you know, the better you can sleep. Early-on people would tell me what I learned was nonsense. (On this forum, too :)) The more you know, FACTUALLY, the better. A Medicaid 5-year look back on applies after ever dime/asset that your dad has has been spent, including selling his house. But it's up to you to keep track of expenses. I urge you to see a Medicaid Attorney to thoroughly understand this process BEFORE assets are utilized. Good luck!
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Reply to ArtMom58
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Being POA can be daunting and with all the rules and laws I would strongly suggest finding an Elder Care lawyer who can be available to answer all your questions and guide you through this. It will truly give you peace of mind!
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Reply to Monica19815
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The $1500 is no big deal for Medicaid purposes.

You cannot use his credit card for purchases with POA documents. You need to become an authorized user on his account and have an additional card sent in your name, POA.
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Reply to Stacy0122
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Medicaid is a nightmare. If he goes on it make sure nothing goes into probate due to estate-recovery laws after he dies. You need estate planning which only an eldercare attorney can help you.

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/eligibility/estate-recovery/index.html

To make matters worse, Medicaid has variations with each state.
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Reply to cetude
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I just staple receipts to the statement each month- is that not detailed enough? Do you automatically get audited every year for every purchase? Can anyone share what their look back experience was like?
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Reply to Homecare123
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Stacy0122 Apr 9, 2021
Michigan asks for bank statement for a year, no check registers, no check copies. It was all the honor system. Checks were wrote to cash and cash gifts given.
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1500 is nothing. Depending on what your state has decided on as the monthly amount for care, it would be a fraction of a month's worth of penalty. He'd only be denied that amount of care.
My parents gave $144,000.00 to my sister and I am the POA who had to discover this through applying for Medicaid. Wow. The penalty was so big, my mother didn't outlive it!
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Reply to covidfornow
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My Dad gave over $13,000.00 in small donations to political organizations over the 5 year look back. The attorney said this was not a problem because of them being such small amounts, it's too much for them to sort through every single one (even as I had already done that! - they still have to do it on their end). If he'd given big, say, $10,000.00 gifts, then it would count against him as penalty. So it depends on the state and how they do things.
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Reply to covidfornow
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Question. Do you have POA for medical - allows you to make medical decisions for him? Do you have POA for financial - allows you to make financial decisions for him?

If you have POA for financial - you can conduct all financial business in his name. Gifting is not the problem with having POA. You have been doing what he haw always done financially. In that sense, you have not "screwed up" or done anything wrong.

Medicaid is a separate issue. Medicaid has different rules about how anybody spends his or her money. I suggest you contact Medicaid or a lawyer or CPA to get the rules on finances. You probably do not have to "pay back" the money but you will probably need to better understand what qualifies.

Praying you get some peace and continue helping your dad in this way.
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Reply to Taarna
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Carolann2244 Apr 9, 2021
I am DPOA and MPOA and he lives with me for care. I’m looking for a lawyer now, thank you! He was doing so poorly all fall that I wasn’t even thinking about Medicaid and the future, just spending as much time with him as I could, but he has made a huge recovery since February and now I can potentially see this situation going years instead of months. Which is absolutely great and I’m so incredibly thankful, but I have 3 kids 9-14 years old who also need my time and attention, so there may come a time in the future when care in my home just can’t continue. I hope not, but want to make sure if we need it down the road, that Medicaid will be available.
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Agreed - as POA, provided you do not "enrich" yourself, it is ethically correct to carry out your father's wishes and to continue your father's long-established practice provided (basically) that he can afford it and won't be depriving himself of anything. You haven't been evil :)

The Medicaid issue is different and is aimed at making sure that families don't drain their parents' bank accounts and then claim support on the grounds of impoverishment, which I think we can all agree is fair enough! - only then what happens to comparatively normal, ordinary personal spending which would normally and ordinarily include getting your toddler grandchild a birthday present, for example? You can check the fine detail for your state online: it is always best to err on the safe side, but you might be pleasantly surprised at what is and isn't allowed.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I think it would be good for you to go on line and read the rules for yourself.

I would think small gifts under $25 for a present would be fine but My Dad is 96 and I have had to hire 24 7 Care so he could stay in his own home like he wants and he will be out of money in another year so last year I announced to all that Dad won't be giving out any gifts to anyone as he needs all his money for his care.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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The amount you paid is a nominal amount, but you should find out what the laws of your state regarding Medicaid are. Just keep track of the gifting and make sure it doesn't go over the amount.

Do some research in your or your father's state regarding duties of POA. Make sure to keep yours and your father's money separate. Your main duty is to act in your father's best interest.

Also know as long as he is competent he can make his own decision, can revoke and reappoint agents to act for him. When I became my parents' POA I would talk over decisions with them and told them I would continue to do so as long as they were able to make decisions. My POA is durable and covers both medical and financial. Before she was fully vaccinated I asked my mother what her wishes were if she were to get COVID and need a ventilator - she said she'd have to think about it. Luckily she never got COVID and if she gave me her decision, I would have followed it - if she hadn't given me an answer I would have made the decision on my own after consulting the doctors.

If you have siblings I wouldn't exclude them but remember you are charged with acting for your father. If my brother was more available and less emotional, I would ask his opinion, but it isn't to be in my case. That doesn't mean I don't keep him informed of what major events happen.

Don't freak out, breathe and research. You'll be fine.
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Reply to cweissp
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There are different types of POA. Some just medical. Some covers everything including finances. If you father has any assets, you need to speak to Elder Law Attorney who has knowledge of Medicaid rules in your state, wills and trusts. You need to get a Supplemental Needs Trust for him with you as beneficiary. Than you can use his money on gifts and anything Medicaid does not pay for. Only an attorney who does Elder Law Wills and Trusts with Medicaid experience can assist you. Call your closest major cities Bar Association and ask for a referral. If you get referral from Bar Association, 1st consulatation is usually free. Otherwise, it'll be around $200.00 for consult.
Keep and make copies of any receipts for things you have purchased with his money. Your dad sounds like mine was. Generous and loving. Good luck! A Supplemental Needs Trust costs around $2000.00.
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Reply to JulianaMoon
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Honestly, my dad is 98. If he wants to give a Christmas gift like he did this year to children and grandchildren I let him. I am not concerned with a 5 year look back on things he has bought or done over his entire life. He determined is 50 year old windows needed to be replaced. He replaced them. The home needed a new roof, he had the new roof put on. The look back period is to make sure he was not dolling out cash un realistically.
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Reply to KaleyBug
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my2cents Apr 9, 2021
Repairs on his home wouldn't be considered - as long as there are contracts for the services. Christmas and other gifts can be considered a means to reduce money to qualify for Medicaid sooner. Ultimately, they are usually looking for abnormal spending amounts over the past 5 years that would indicate that's what happened. Roofing payment made to someone with same last name or a family company might be questioned. -- I wouldn't have the heart to tell my parent they could no longer buy some Christmas or birthday presents either. She was never wealthy, didn't buy extravagant items, so doubt it would be questioned.
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I don't think the small amount of Christmas gifting or for birthdays is going to be an issue for you. That is really not a large amount that raises a flag of trying to give away money to qualify for Medicaid. For the future, you would do better to purchase a couple of gifts a month for next Christmas and upcoming birthdays. When evaluating lookback, they are looking for monies going out of the household each month. $1500 over the period of 12 mos is not huge. You might even try to find smaller gifts so that dad has something to give.
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Reply to my2cents
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Here is my question. You keep saying at Dad's discretion You are POA for a reason. Your dad is no longer capable of managing his financial affairs. Why are you listening to him about gifting??
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Reply to MsRandall
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Imho, when dealing with your question about Medicaid, it's best to check your state's Medicaid rules.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Maybe this will help
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D59DmNClGl3M&ved=2ahUKEwiF3KXb5PTvAhUJgK0KHfy1DDcQjjh6BAgFEAI&usg=AOvVaw0WP1h7Xb0uCa2zVLHKnMvz
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Reply to MACinCT
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First check with Medicaid in the state you live in. As for the POA, you should have received a copy, from the lawyer that drew it up, the right, responsibilities, etc. of a Power of Attorney - yours specifically.

Make an appointment with the attorney and ask the questions you have. I was POA for my Mother and if she requested I get something for her or as a gift for one of her grandchildren that was perfectly OK. As I always made sure the gifts were from her not me. And if the request was one that spent money she could not afford, I would let her know exactly that. It only happened one time and she was not happy.

However, with dementia and all she could still understand that the funds she had were for her care. I offered to help her get and send cards or notes, so she could express she remembered people. Even that eventually stopped as her memory got worse and worse.

If your Dad's funds are such that it may become necessary to get Medicaid, then start now with helping Dad understand that his funds need to be spent only on him. Perhaps finding different ways for him to remember his grandchildren can be found.

lt is also important for the kids and extended family understand that Dad cannot afford to keep giving gifts. Good luck and God Bless, it is not an easy job.
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