If Mom applies for Medi-cal because she needs to go into a nursing home will all of the money she has spent since she lived with us be subject to a 'look back'?

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My Mom lives with me and my wife. I am thinking of putting my name on her checking/savings account, and this is her only asset. If I am on her checking/savings account which currently has $34,000 in savings and has $1550.00 deposited each month from SSI. If at some time later on she applies for Medi-cal (in California) because she needs to go into a nursing home because we can no longer take care of her (my wife has been disabled for the last 10 years) will all of the money she has spent since she lived with us be subject to a 'look back' to see how she spent her money? I realize that they will use all of her remaining savings to pay for the nursing home until it is depleted, but what about money already spent? I ask only because she does pay for groceries with her credit card (that she pays off each month) and movies, etc, but doesn't give us 'cash' in lieu of paying us rent, etc, She feels like she wants to 'contribute' but we don't want to jeopardize her future Medi-cal eligibility or have to pay that money back. Thanks!

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The checking account can be done so that mom owns it but you are a signature on the account with it POD to you upon her death. Keep in mind that Medicaid allows for them to have 2K in assets, so that bank account can continue to remain open with 2K in assets in it either to pay for things not covered by Medicaid (like a dental emergency) or perhaps things not included in her pre-need fully paid up funeral & burial policy (like flowers). If she goes onto Medicaid, after she spends down to 2K, that monthly income of $ 1550 must be paid to the NH as her co-pay or SOC (share of cost) except for a smallish PNA / personal needs allowance (varies by state from $ 35 - 105). You as DPOA have a choice as to whether she signs over the income to go directly to the NH each month with the PNA building up in a NH trust account OR you as DPOA write a check from her account each month for her co-pay but he PNA builds in her bank account each month. Whichever you do, you kinda need to keep an eye on her assets so that they do not exceed 2K at the end of every month which can cause a ineligibility by Medicaid.

Personally I'd suggest as mom lives with you to do some sort of personal care agreement in which mom pays you a small amount each month. These are totally OK by Medicaid if it is done by an elder law atty within whatever amounts are OK for your community standards. Whether its best being a rental agreement or personal serves agreement, to me kinda depends on your finances and taxes. Something is going to come up either now or later when she is in the NH, that isn't covered by Medicaid for her OR you & your wife run into a bad couple of months with your own finances so that having that smallish nest egg of $ from when mom lived with you will be a godsend. OR even if you don't need it, you could let it build and do a big wake for her or go all out on funeral florals.

If mom does not have a fully paid, no cash value, pre-need funeral & burial done, I'd look to spend some of that 34K to get one done and paid for. Otherwise the costs will fall on family to pay for. At 8 - 12K for funeral & burial, it adds up.
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Never put yourself on their account as a co-owner, it will create Medicaid problems down the road. Keep all her income and expenses separate.
It is legal to have a share-of-cost agreement, but it must be written down or Medicaid considers the money to you as a gift. For example, the groceries: she cannot pay for all of them, just her portion (cost divided by number of people in the house). Otherwise you are being gifted. Same with movies-- only her portion.
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