How are bonds handled with Medicaid's 5 year look back? 5 years from purchase or when cashed? -

How are bonds handled with Medicaid's 5 year look back? 5 years from purchase or when cashed?


My mom is in an assisted living place in Minnesota to help her with dealing with her Alzhiemer's. Six years ago, she took out I Savings Bonds (Federal) in her name with each of her children being listed on the bond to make it easier to distribute her estate later. The place where she is living will accept Medicare once she qualifies for that and have guaranteed us that she wouldn't have to move once she's done a private pay for 3 years. That time is almost up. Now, I don't know how the bonds that are in her name with the child's names would be counted. Does the 5 year look back count from when the bonds are purchased (6 years ago) or when the bonds are cashed (which they are still sitting in a safe deposit box)? She would be able to give these gifts to her children herself, if they would not have to count in the 5 year look back of assets. Any guidance would help!

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Jara - wow, savings bonds. Nothing like doing it old school style.

I'm going to approach this differently than Jeanne or Jessie (both answers are great advice and should be considered). imho you have 2 different issues here: ownership of the bonds and how bonds work. I was executrix for an aunt who just loved doing E bonds both as a way of saving $ and as gifts - you name the occasion (graduation, wedding, birthday) she gave them and often did it as co-owner and a couple as POD. When she died, some of those bonds where still being held by the persons she gave them to.Why they still held them was varied, some had not matured completely (usually 30 years) and some were being held for kids college funds and some because they didn't know wtf what to do with them. They had not redeemed the bonds which showed her and them as co-owners. You do not need both owners signature to redeem the bonds, you just need 1 of the persons listed on the bond to do that. So none of the bonds were included in her estate, they were the property of whom she gave them to, as you need only 1 person to claim ownership to redeem them. They were NOT my aunt's asset, this according to the probate judge. BUT if they had been bonds issued POD (not as co-owners) then they would have been part of her estate but not subject to probate because they were POD, this is kinda like having a bank account POD (if the bonds are POD you have to have a certified death certificate to redeem or re-register them). How the bonds are done likely will make a big difference as to whether it's an asset for her OR they were a gift and before the 5 year look back and what the intention was for the bonds and you should talk with an elder care attorney to see what the viewpoint on bonds are for your area in dealing with Medicaid and probate later on.

Tax wise the bonds, I don't think exist, until they get redeemed or get re-registered so I bet they really aren't going to show up on Medicaid radar. I was dealing with paper bonds (this was before the electronic ones they do now) so that might have changed.

Now you need to look at the bonds to see what the maturity is. Redeeming them before that date (could be 10, 20 or 30 years) is a bad idea and could cost some of the principal.

One last thing, banks aren't selling bonds anymore. My late aunt would be just heartbroken about this! So most banks will not redeem them at all & you have to go to the Treasury Dpt on-line to do this. Good luck & let us know what's what
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Jeanne is correct. If the bonds were bought with her name on it, they will be considered hers and will be included with the amount to be spent down. If she had gifted them completely six years ago by buying them only in the children's name, it would be different. If the bonds are sizable, I would definitely get some advice on how to handle them, as Jeanne suggests. There may be other ways the money can be used in your state that will not disqualify your mother for Medicaid.
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If her name is on them and she still owns them now, I believe that they are going to be counted as an asset. If that is the case, she will be expected to use them on her own care before Medicaid kicks in.

Being prepared to apply for Medicaid can get very complicated. It would be worthwhile to consult an elder law attorney regarding the best way to handle the savings bonds and any other assets she still has.
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