How much can an elderly parent give as gifts without worrying about "look back" laws?

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My mother is 88 years old and still living in her own home. She wants to continue to give monetary gifts at Christmas but is worried about the "look back" law. How much can she give that is considered reasonable so children won't have to pay back if she will need to qualify for Medicaid in the next 5 years.

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Actually, let me rephrase that . . . Her home is under a 'living will'. Thank you.
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Can one gift $10K a year without a look back for Mass Health? My mother lives in her home but it is in a life estate.
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I used to do that, too, with my parents' checks to me for holidays
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Rosyday, what a great idea about tearing up the check after the fact. I will need to remember that in case my Dad remembers that he and my late Mom use to give me a check for my birthday and for Christmas. I have all of Dad's financials.

With elders living over 100 now a days, one never knows what will be the time line 5 years from now. So I need to be ready just in case with a lot of xerox copies of bills. For awhile I was needing to reimburse myself for caregiving bills that were pulled from my own checking account so those costs were a biggee.
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I dont know if this will help. My mother always gave me and my husband a check for birthdays and Christmas (even though my husband is Jewish:)). She 91 in AL and I have POA. Since I pay her bills, i am concerned about look back when she eventually applies for Medicaid. I already will have to justify years of checks to a woman who cleaned for her. I now bring her a blank check for her to fill out and enclose in a greeting card. I then thank her, tear up the check at home and later tell her what i bought for that amount.
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Assume the Medicaid will treat any check to a family member to be a gift subject to a look back period. There is no set amount by federal guidelines to my knowledge. It is probably best to avoid checks or large unusual withdraws. Christmas would be a red flag. Your local agency probably treats this as a carefully guarded secret. It can also vary by locality and caseworker.
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well, igloo, up until fil passed away no taxes, no filing, since he was disabled, but, really, don't think it could be considered to be "working" anyway, since nobody's doing any of that, hence my concern re MERP.
But you're right; we're not the POA so, yes, also right, up to her, why talked to her; she's high up at a financial institution where she talked to their lawyer re - as I'm thinking she didn't really understand herself based on lawyer who did all that - the LE, thinking that all the children actually owned the property and could do with as will, especially since mil no longer lives there, not that was an actual stipulation, anyway, rather than it being than mil actually still owns it; she takes no responsibility, like as far as paying the taxes on it; she doesn't care since she doesn't live there and POA doesn't either, so if the children didn't go ahead and pay the taxes for their parts, everybody would just lose it all, which, again, mil probably wouldn't care and POA either, except for their part, which is a whole other issue, except that we've been given to understand - not from the POA - that all the money fil left her to take care of her is gone and if not "working" hence no MERP exemption then seems POA needs to be concerned, if no financial flexibility, unless she's planning on taking care of it herself? guess need to be finding out the rules here but nobody seems to want to, unless maybe as the ones who are having more to do with her and she with them, which doesn't seem to be us; her new hub came by our place over the weekend while she was out with them, including the poa; are finding out more as they do or are attempting to get more done; last time we talked mil didn't want to have anything to do with any of it; she didn't even want the le to be on the property; attorney just did it because had been done on the house part; said he wouldn't have any problem taking it off the rest if she'd just come in, but she doesn't want to bother with it, but maybe that's because of the money situation we didn't know about then and maybe poa knows as well
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Deb - the "working" part, well my guess would be that each year you can show a tax filing on the business/farm; that the owners/partners participate in some sort of professional organization relevant to the farm (like Cattlemen's Association, AQHA, Bison Breeders of America or whatever for your farm/ranch); you know things to show that it is an ongoing true activity. Doesn't have to be profitable either.

If what I'm reading on your situation is correct, your not the POA, right? Well its going to be up to the POA to deal with all for her. It sounds like quite a sticky mess and its the POA's tar baby to deal with. You & hubs can go and visit and make her day brighter but don't have to deal with the minutia of legal and paperwork that's out there.
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thanks, igloo, hm...wonder what has to be done to be considered working?...but I can understand, really, the states broadening the MERP re LE if they see it as just a try to be workaround of it; not really sure why it was done, other than actually the other way; he wanted to make sure mom was taken care of and had a place to live, though why then he didn't just make sure she just outright got it all, maybe, in his mind, it was also to make sure the kids did too; not sure he thought she could go ahead and sell or do something with it, though not sure she thinks so either, think do need to find about the tax breaks, though, since she also won't take any responsibility for paying them, not sure if she realizes or cares what would happen, especially since she doesn't even still live there anymore; think that did away with any tax breaks, especially since she went down there and told them; she actually remarried and believe her husband insisted she do so, not sure if felt wasn't right for her to continue to take it but not sure if he thought she would pay full price; actually nothing had had to have been being paid on it before at all because of dad's disability but not sure that would have applied to her or not; there wasn't really enough time to find all that out before she remarried. But we are wondering as well re the whole NH/Medicaid situation since - although we're not the POA and not sure how forthcoming she's been - she's not a child, which, from something I read on here, might be a good thing, at least in the sense of one child over another, maybe that's why she did it the way she did; she's a grandchild - with the other children regarding mom's finances- we've been told she's already given away all the money pop left her to take care of herself when the time came, so..re the land with LE, if would be subject to the MERP/lien, etc. re Medicaid; she does get dad's pension that he set up that way, even though she remarried; govt changed the rules regarding that some time back; otherwise somewhat wonder what she would have done; her sister got caught in that but don't know if it would cover cost but also wonder re new hub's responsibility; would he have any, igloo, do you know? the thought is seeming to be that he wouldn't but I'm not so sure; just because it's a 2nd marriage and they don't have any children/family together, wouldn't change that, would it?
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Deb - my understanding of LE are that they change the ownership to show that upon the death of the owner the property passes outside of probate to whomever is named owner(s) BUT the old owner retains the ability to control the property during their lifetime. So they can continue to get senior citizen tax breaks, etc. as they still own the property but titled as a life estate. It's only once after they die that true ownership changes. So say parent has a son & a daughter on the LE, neither of them can go and get lending -like a heloc - on the property as they don't actually own it, it's still within the control of their parent as long as the parent is alive. Sometimes the LE is done so that if parent sells the LE property the named heirs must sign off also on the sale.

For those on Medicaid, since an LE in theory passes outside of probate, it was viewed as a way to get around medicaid's estate recovery (MERP). Merp was envisioned as done within the probate process. But states seem to now to take a wider view on recovery of assets even those outside of probate like an LE. PamS has posted about this happening in NYS. As an aside on this, NYS for things financial & legal often sets a standard for other states....so if NYS estate recovery is disallowing LE from bring outside of merp recovery then other states will likely do so also.

For those of us who are boomers, well it's going to be interesting what middle class retirees start to do to plan for future Medicaid.....if you've dealt with your parents Medicaid, home health, AL, NH sagas, you've seem up close that easily 100k, 200k, 300k is pffft gone within a pretty short time frame.

But back to your farm ?.....working farms & ranches can be exempt from medicaid estate recovery (MERP). Just like property the elder owns that is the site of a active family business can be exempt. But it's all on family & heirs to do whatever to deal with the paperwork for the exemption.
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