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I’m asking this question, because I constantly see articles and receive advice from family/financial/ estate planning about getting Medicaid coverage, and how to “protect” the aging’s assets so they can qualify for Medicaid.
Here’s my question, if your loved one spent their whole life saving for “retirement” trying to put themselves in a good financial position, however started experiencing health problems, why is it a goal to put them in a position where they only qualified for Medicaid level care? Wouldn’t you want their hard-earned money to go towards a quality of life?
I think Medicaid is great for those who don’t have the financial means to care for themselves, are disabled and could never build a proper income , or perhaps towards the end of life, when assets run out, they aren’t put out on the street.


I’m just wondering what the other reason is besides moving their assets so the family can inherit after their passing when it should technically be theirs? What is the benefit for the aging loved one, that I’m not seeing?


Recently became POA for my mom who suddenly started to decline and only come across advice on trusts and Medicaid when I know my mom worked hard and made good decisions for what she has. I’m thinking what was originally meant for her retirement, should go towards quality care for her. What else am I missing??

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I don't think it's. a goal to be on Medicaid for most people. If you have money, you have choices. The best nursing homes in my area will accept Medicaid but to get in you'd better show them $300k to $400k in assets- and the house doesn't count. Their Medicaid beds are for the residents who already spent the 100s of thousands of dollars renting a room.

People act like families investigating Medicaid are all gaming the system. Most people are just trying to responsibly manage their parents' estate- in my opinion. You really can't fault them for investigating the rules and acting according to them.
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mstrbill Oct 30, 2020
Exactly, well said.
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You've asked a very good question. The only reason to move assets is to hide them from Medicaid. The aging person does not benefit in anyway - the heirs do. I agree with you. They saved all their life for old age. Use it to pay for the best care you can get until it runs out. Then, use the Medicaid that is intended for people at or below the poverty limit. While money is available, why not pay for the best care you can afford? It belongs to the person needing the care.

I worked in welfare programs and retired with a state agency. With politics being front and center these days and comments being made about people wanting something for nothing - some of those same people forget (I sure didn't) that they called me at one time to ask "How do I hide my parent's money, property, house, etc" Or, what should I put on this application for a Medicaid nursing home bed about my mom's savings account". My answer was always the same - you tell the truth because once you use up her money, she will be eligible for the Medicaid bed. There was no way I was going to give advice to circumvent the system and lose my job. So what it comes down to, politically, is that there are some people who detest the thought that someone might get something for free UNLESS they are the recipient. Then the story is 'I worked all my life and paid taxes" No, you didn't earn a penny of your mom's money - she did. You just want to get your hands on something you did not earn.

My job was always a joke at a gathering of family/friends/etc. Someone had to mention what a welfare recipient looks like, however they would never identify their own Medicaid mom as being what a welfare recipient looks like. --They told me about all the cadillacs parked in our parking lot. 1)The car might have belonged to a working employee 2)large, older gas guzzling cars have been cheap to buy for years. 3) i work there and have yet to see a parking lot full of cadillacs. --Then there was the Food Stamps and depending on what race the person was who was talking, an opposite race would be mentioned saying it was all that particular color getting welfare. I got denied because I'm white, black, brown, etc. NOT. The rules are the same regardless of color. You're either eligible or not. -- And always knew someone getting thousands of dollars from welfare. Don't think so. People survive on welfare, they don't create huge savings accounts. And I happen to know the maximum amts for each program. Yes, a few cheat (and I worked in investigations) - but I saw far more people who could afford medical care/facility care for an aging parent trying to hide assets than I did cheating Food Stamp recipients. Some of them got away with it because they were lucky enough to move the money prior to the 5 year look back period.

I actually overheard a lady whose mom was in the nursing home having a conversation with her friend. The friend asked how much it cost a month to be in a nursing home. The woman replied, we don't pay anything. I made my mom destitute so she would get a free Medicaid bed. We moved all her money over 5 years ago while she was still living at home. I thought to myself - what a wonderful daughter you are to make your own mother a pauper.
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mstrbill Oct 30, 2020
Thank you for this excellent post.
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I don’t think it’s anyone’s goal. In the many cases like mine my mom doesn’t have the financial means to pay $8-10K per month for Alzheimer’s care. I’ve taken care of her for 6.5 years but now physically and even emotionally it’s more than I can handle. So therefore I’m trying to get her Medicaid. Hope this helps.
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Missylee Oct 31, 2020
This is my situation exactly...funds are not unlimited and my own health has become compromised from physical and mental exhaustion after 6 years of taking care of my father with dementia and other issues. I believe I'm doing the best I can with all the love that I have.
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It’s very true that a person’s assets should be used to pay for their needs and care. Also true that Medicaid is a government program that helps people who can’t afford to pay for care. I personally don’t believe in inheritance at the expense of public funds, to me that’s misuse. Others see it differently. In our family, my mother’s care post stroke quickly burned through what we thought was an excellent long term care policy, private pay wasn’t sustainable for the long term, and Medicaid was done to avoid bankruptcy for my dad. When you consider years of nursing home care at over $140 a day it doesn’t take long to break a person. My mother’s SS always went toward her care, but the rest simply become too much
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Tholden627 Oct 28, 2020
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, that’s helpful information for me. I’m in my 30s, became power POA overnight for my mom and don’t really have any older relatives to guide, mostly just strangers.
I hope your dad is doing all right.
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I paid within a few hundred do;Lars of a million to care for my mother, over about 5 1/2 years’ time, in the best nursing home setting I could find.

It was her money, my father had made it, and that’s what he would have wanted.

Had she lived much longer, she would have gone on Medicaid after all of her assets were expended.

I never regretted handling the situation as I did.
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Bridger46164 Oct 28, 2020
Good to hear your experience. You did the right thing for your mother and with her money.
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Medicaid was never a plan!
My parents had money & a big CA house near the beach. Then dad got cancer & they spent all savings/reverse mortgage to pay for his non-helpful chemo then experimental drugs. Poverty & dementia hit my mommy hard as soon as dad's funeral was done.

Moved her in with me, her only child, until while I'm at work, she walked into highway traffic thinking she was "crossing" her childhood street. Again.

With my own health, job, & finances in tatters to juggle care for her at home, I relented to Medicaid for mommy's 24 hour memory care because there's no personal money left. Awful. Heartbreaking. With COVID I can never kiss or hug her. But, she is safe now & is "ok" with her routine. I'm thankful for Medicaid for my mommy's protection & care.

Medicaid was NEVER the plan. It's a safety net.
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You are correct, her money should be used to provide her with the best possible quality of life.

Many people are looking for ways to hustle the system and get a fat inheritance while their parents are put in a nursing home and many times just forgotten.

I can't personally imagine worrying about getting the house I want and was promised if it meant that my loved one had to go on welfare for me to receive it. But it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Because your mom has a disabled dependent adult child I highly recommend that you go to www.nelf.org and find a certified elder law attorney in your area and have them help you. He needs to be protected as much as mom, they will be able to help you ensure that he is taken care of in the event that mom no longer can.

I was cheering your post, hustling the system is a hot button for me. I have seen people that needed the aid and could not qualify while others that didn't need it shielded their assets to qualify. The lack of integrity that takes is gut wrenching and the ones that suffer are the ones that didn't have anything to hide.

God bless you on your journey, may you find a great attorney and be filled with strength and wisdom.
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Tholden627 Oct 28, 2020
Thank you for this. People often bring Inheritance/ Sheltering assets up to me first up As if its a primary concern. Her care is my primary concern so I was wondering if I was missing something.
As for my brother, my mom back in 2016 worked Thoroughly with a very prominent special-needs lawyer/ estate planner.
He has proper trusts set up for him with me as POA, Got all the proper assessments so he could qualify for certain funding, as well as Medicaid and Social Security.
When my mom started to decline, his plan went on the back burner, so I had to rummage through notes to figure out what she did. After some digging, I was able to pick it back up with social workers and after five months of working hard he’s getting very close to having his future set.

I’m on the homestretch for that!! wish us luck in that category as well!
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I went through this issue with my mom the last year before she died. My mom had funds that were quickly being spent down for in-home care and I faced the prospect of her going into a care home and eventually qualifying for Medicaid. She died before she went into a facility, so it all became a nonissue. However, I believe that a person's funds should be used to pay for their care, not to fund children's inheritance. I am heartened by the replies here that advocate that position. I talked with a Medicaid attorney while doing my research and asked why I would want to pay him to work toward speeding up the process to get my mom qualified. When he said, "to protect her assets for you", that was it. I was out of there. Again, my personal view, but government funds are supposed to be used to help the needy, not the greedy.
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mollymoose Oct 31, 2020
We went to an elder care attorney for legitimate guidance on getting my mom qualified for Medicaid. He wanted us to pay him $10,000 (no joke!!!) to "protect her assets for us"! He honestly thought we should just go ahead and put her in the nursing home. I told him that wasn't what she saved her money for all her life and I left. I was shocked, and now I understand why lawyers are considered sleezy.
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The fact is, not everyone's retirement will cover much in the way of long-term care. That money goes fast when it's self-paid.

My folks' house was paid off, and my dad did an excellent job of saving and investing for their retirement, so now that my mother is in memory care, she's able to pay for it with existing funds. However, it also costs more than twice what she and my dad were living on when it was the two of them at home. It's costing her about $150,000 a year now between her nursing home bills and her medical expenses.

Not a lot of people can afford that for too many years, so I'm sure that's why there's usually a discussion of Medicaid.
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Havefaith Nov 2, 2020
Exactly. Middle class folks will go through their life savings in a year. Rich folks get private nurses and don't usually have to deal with nursing homes.
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I think you are mistaken in how Medicaid works. There really is no way to "protect" your assets from Medicaid UNLESS you give away your money (presumably to a family member) at least 5 years prior to needing Medicaid. If you have money, and need long term care, your money is going to pay for that care before State Medicaid pays. Or, if you've set up trusts that are needed to qualify for the care that you need, Medicaid will recover from those trusts upon death. The protection that you are seeking when consulting with attorneys or Medicaid experts is protection for your spouse to remain in the home, or setting up an income trust to qualify for Medicaid if your income exceeds State guidelines. This isn't cheating the system because the State will still get the money in the end anyway. The only way you can "cheat the system" is if you transfer your assets or give away your money 5 years before needing any kind of Long term care. There is no other way. Other than that, advice on how to qualify for Medicaid is geared toward structuring the money to comply with State laws. The State will still be satisfied financially in the end.
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worriedinCali Oct 28, 2020
Actually there are multiple ways protect assets. Giving your money away more than 5 years before you need Medicaid isn’t the only way. An irrevocable trust for example, protects assets and allows someone to go on Medicaid as long as it’s set up 2.5-5 years before Medicaid is needed.
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