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All of my mother's assets were spent down, and she's now in a nursing home on Medical Assistance (Medicaid) in Minnesota. My dad is in assisted living. He has an annuity worth about $50k, and has $40k in checking. Two years ago the beneficiary of my dad's estate was changed from my mother to me. I'm wondering if my dad's money is subject still to the five year look back after he passes, or if there is anything that can be done now to protect his remaining assets. They are still married.

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Thanks everyone for your input. It's appreciated.
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you can prepay a creamation... just a thought.
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Aveeno, you need an irrevocable Trust. Some family trusts are revocable or have clauses that make the Trust vulnerable to attack. Always get an attorney on board to do a proper setup for your particular state.
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I have been under the understanding that if you put the money in a family trust that after 5 years they can't touch it, is this true?
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igloo, they've always had the income limits. That's what been so frustrating to husband's aunt; she just thought they could get what my dad got - guess everybody thinks their income is practically poverty level, or else think it shouldn't matter but they get the SS my dad got plus a nice pension that he didn't; granted, uncle stayed on his job until forced out while my dad chucked it all but oh well, way the ball bounces, maybe uncle should have done the same thing or maybe my dad should have done the opposite but I, at least, am glad he didn't but then I'm also glad for the A&A as well, that I didn't know anything about or I'm not sure what we would have done. But that's not the asset limit, which neither one had/has but we weren't dealing with the community spouse situation in either case, but since they didn't even have as much as the VA limit that wouldn't have mattered anyway, except for the fact that VA doesn't count the house and Medicaid does, which, in a way, with the way things have gone, almost wish it hadn't been an issue, which actually turned out not to be anyway, since ended up not putting mom in, though I wonder, had it not been an issue, if we would have. And medical has always been allowed to counted as an expense; it's just that in both of my cases, the veterans have been under the VA healthcare system so their medical has been covered anyway so hasn't been an expense to, at least in the case of hub's aunt and uncle, come off their income, another source of frustration for aunt, both because she'd like to have that happen and also she doesn't feel he's getting the care he should but because he is a veteran, uncle wants to continue to use them. But the one thing that we learned that I'm not sure is really understood and certainly in my experience doesn't seem to be understood even by the VSO's is that caretaking is considered one of those medical costs.
But that's where the asset lookback is becoming more of an issue what with the "tsumani" of veterans, not really sure it's the baby boomers yet, as much as it's just the WWII, though that may be going away, but then not really sure either, what the longer longevity of them, and the Korea vets, coming of age to need the help and more of them knowing about, thanks to lawyers and such, certainly not the VA, this A&A and applying for it, like Medicaid has done for years but VA has not, allowing and I think this is part of it too, they always trusted the vets to not take advantage of this benefit by hiding their assets. The problem being these vets see it as an entitlement in a way those coming before didn't. And, igloo, I've heard of that as well but like you said.....
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Ladylee - AKdaughter is on the right track on this. As is debdaughter. VA is now placing income ceilings on the vet or thier spouse to determine if they are/is eligible for A&A.

They now do IVAP - Income for VA Purposes. For couples it's 80k & singles it's 50k plus home & car. I know your thinking wtf as that's less than medicaid application for couples with a community spouse situation. Ah but wait ....there's more.....under VA A&A now "income " is counted differently as VA seems to allow for some medical or medical related costs to be used to lower "income". So each applicants IVAP is unique.

At some point in the near future with the oncoming tsunami of baby boomers there will be no way for either states medicaid or the VA to pay for care at the rate (& it's increasing) cost in the long term. 100k - 150k paid out on average for a year of NH just isn't sustainable either for families or govt.. Personally I'd like to see the current crop of candidates talk about how this is going to work & just how there are going to enough low-wage workers to staff facilities if there arent immigrants. Walls....yeah well there will be folks from the US going over those walls to line in & get care in NH in Latin America. But I'll stop as this is not a political site.
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I've been trying to get hub's aunt and uncle to go ahead and use their IRA, which they say they're trying to hang onto for burial expenses to go ahead and use it to get a pre-need funeral - not sure if they're going to need it for burial, except for the actual of it, but not the plot - done but they've heard so many scary stories of people doing that and then losing everything, although I think regs have been put in place and insurances now to keep that from happening but they're still scared to do it but they still even with that aren't over the 80K threshold; it's just been the income from it that's been their issue with the A&A. But also, if he's a veteran, at least in my experience, most people don't get a floral arrangement anyway, they just use the flag that you get, at least that's what we did with my dad, maybe I shouldn't have but he wasn't much of a flower person anyway; that was my mom. Guess never thought much of dental work, since dad had had dentures for years, though I do wish I'd gotten him a better pair, but have I missed something, has dad had throat cancer?
I'm glad you've been made the beneficiary; my dad's was never changed after my mom passed and it was quite the nightmare then to get it after he passed and I don't think that falls under the 5 yr. lookback; it isn't an asset you actually have access to
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also, re the annuity, trying to keep it intact, know that's what hub's aunt and uncle trying to do with their IRA
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CF, so has the house actually already been sold - at least in the sense of contract, to the flippers? and they have it on the market? was that part of the deal, that your dad wouldn't get paid until they sold it? or does he actually already have the money from it? is that where the 40K is from or is that in addition? so are you counting the house funds plus the 40K as the 80K you saying you're trying to get him down to, so did he get more than that from the house? guess question is if he doesn't actually have the house funds yet his house wouldn't count against him for the A&A so just wondering why trying to sell it and then if so, though not sure how feel about this and not entirely sure how it's working now, but why you're just counting the house sale if then trying to get it spent down to get the A&A, rather than putting it in trust or something to be able to go ahead with the A&A and really wondering if you've talking the to AL facility about all this; they normally have people that can help you with all of this if you don't already have a good attorney who understands it all. And is getting their marriage certificate a big issue? I know I've run into that with hub's aunt and uncle because she was married before, which annoys me that that has to be an issue, because think their reason for it could be dealt with later, which also means need her divorce decree, but also she and uncle were married out of state and even though I thought these things were public record, learned, at least in that state, no, not for so long, and even though they've been married 50 yrs, not long enough, they have to do it, can't get it for them but I see you have guardianship so you shouldn't have any problem but have you talked to the VA at all because not sure they accept that; they might guardianship, might have to that, since it's through the court, just know they don't POAs, so, you haven't done any of the paperwork for it yet? because waiting on the spenddown? think you really need to be talking to somebody - because they now have an intent to file form to hold your place in line.
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ladylee, I think the VA is trying to come more in line with Medicaid threshholds as more and more people are applying for the A&A, so they may be counting SS in that now; I know it is counted as income, been dealing with this with hub's aunt and uncle for several years now because of both their income and assets; also, a will would have to be done before he passed but even if he did, how would that bypass MERP for his spouse?
also, igloo, is withdrawing from the annuity like withdrawing from an IRA, know that's also been an issue been dealing with with the A&A, those distributions count as income.
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akdaughter, that is incorrect. the annual income does not count as an asset it is income only.
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When a couple applies for Medicaid for one and not the other, the remaining spouse can keep up to 119,000$ in our state.
That money can be used for their own needs.
If your Dad passed now, he can will his remaining money to his children. The money will not be taken for the care of his spouse. If your Dad outlives his money and goes on Medicaid then there will be no estate to preserve.
Good Luck.
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CF, the last article about A & A that I read said that the rules have changed. Now the threshold is that assets and annual income together cannot exceed $119,000. I am not sure if income such as SS is included in this calculation. You might want to call your local veteran's services office and ask them for the new rules.
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CF - I worded my suggestion incorrectly.....try to withdraw the maximum allowed annually from the principal of the annuity without penalty. It's not about getting the distribution but rather actually taking money (the maximum allowed annually & is usually about 10%) out of the whole annuity.
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My folks are getting cremated when the time comes. They don't have many friends and I'm not going to do the usual pomp and circumstance funeral that you might expect. Yes, dad gets a minimum distribution from the annuity. We have had to cash out some of it from time to time, but now that the house is sold/selling (contract for deed, flippers fixed it up, and now it's currently on the market), he has enough money to last for a while, until I get a copy of the marriage certificate and get all the paperwork done for the vets pension. The worst part of all of this is that they both had to have huge problems at the same time, and they wouldn't listen to me year ago when I brought up long term care insurance. This could have been so much easier if they had let me handle things starting 10 years ago.
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Dad had to spend 20% of his assets before she qualified. She went into a home first, and he still lived in his house until he couldn't walk well enough anymore. His hip is terrible, and he refused to get it replaced with the fiercest and most irrational stubbornness you can imagine. By the time I got guardianship and conservatorship, it was too late to compel the surgery as he would not likely survive it.
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Jeanne - I'd bet that at roughly under 100k in assets, dad since he is in AL is considered still living "in the community" so he's commnity spouse & can keep both the 50k annuity & his 40/45k liquid and still be under the 115k asset ceiling for a CS.

CF - please, please find the annuity and review the cash out & surrender terms. It could be quite significant between fees and penalty. If its the usual type of annuity dad can take a small minimum distribution withdrawal amount out annually. If dad did a SPIA well that is probably not an option ever. So the type of annuity matters. Assuming he can take $ out, you may want to do ASAP is take the maximum minimum distribution allowed annually with out penalty. It usually is 10% of face but coukd have a smallish fee. If it were me I'd use up dads liquid $ before ever cashing annuity out aka doing a settlement as it really costs so you want to do that only as a last resort but do the annual maximum minimum withdrawal distribution. Comprende?

Then I'd try to soend down to get dad to the 80k ASAP. Does he & mom have a pre-need funeral & burial done? If not, get those done ASAP, do the max min out of the annuity and maybe prepay his AL a couple of months or prepay funeral floral (usually not included in funeral burial preneed), get dental work done (or maybe post throat cancer cancer dental health treatment) to get him to 79k and get that A&A application filed. I'm assuming you have the A&A at the ready & just waiting for the magic asset # to file?

It's going to be quite the juggling act to get done but it could all work to get him to get A&A and not have to do a settlement cash out on that annuity. So dad is able to between his income & A&A pay for AL and not touch the annuity except for the annual min max so he dies with it still in place and available to you as his beneficiary. As annuities usyally pass outside of probate, it's not a recoverable asset for MERP.

Geez louise annuities and the advanced & ill elderly......you wanna be peeved? Review the commmision the from the annuity to the insurance agent.
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Are your mother and father in different states? I don't understand how Mom qualified for Medicaid if Dad has that much in income and assets.
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I have no helpful guidance/answer.
Just a suggestion.
Seek professional financial/legal assistance. I would.
You are to be commended for taking care of these difficult matters on top of
the sad situation with your dad's health declining.
Hang tight!
M88
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Dad will be eligible for a veteran's pension when he his 80k in assets. Just have to finish with the selling of the house, the country will get my mom's share. Believe me when I tell you it's been a mountain of paper work and chores, and dad has been about the least cooperative a person you can imagine, but I've muddled through it.
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I was thinking the same as cwillie. I would keep the money liquid in case he needs it. $90K sadly isn't very much when it comes to the end of life. It can evaporate in less than a year if things get worse. We can never tell with older people, particularly when their health is not good.
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If she is already on Medicaid and not "Medicaid pending" and you are getting these things outside of Probate, you should be good. Don't count on it though, Assisted Living has Level of Care costs that rise sharply as he declines.
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He's 85 and not in the greatest health. Right now that isn't my top concern. He's well looked after, and his income covers roughly half of his monthly costs.

My question is what would happen to his money if he died in the next few months (which is likely given his weight and other problems).
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$90K isn't going to last your dad very long if he is in assisted living unless he has an enormous pension, even if his costs are only $1000 a month above his income he only has a 90 month cushion.
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