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My mother and I have a joint CD and a joint savings account (to pay for items when she owned a home...but it's been sold). Now we're in the spend-down phase. I feel that half the amount in the accounts should legally be mine. We've owned the accounts for at least 10 years.

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Check with an elder law attorney, they should be able to direct you on the legalities of this issues.
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The way this is worded sounds like the bank just put a POA on the account. A POA is written up by a lawyer and signed by the person authorizing another person to handle their finances or medical when they can't do it. You must present this to the bank before they will allow u to be added to an account without the parent being present. My Mom was on my nephews account and we took her off per her lawyer.
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Paul1951,
In my state (Washington), when someone is applying for Medicaid services, the state looks at any money in joint accounts as the applicant's money. They have no way of separating the two--if mom's name is on the account, all the money is considered hers, no matter who put the money in. For example, I was working with a mother and daughter, mother was applying for assistance. They lived together and co-owned the home, and had a joint bank account, into which both women put money. Most of the money was the daughter's, who had a higher income. However, when they applied for assistance, the mother was considered "over resource limits" because of the balance of the joint account. The financial worker at the state has no way of separating whose money is whose--so they recommended the daughter get them separate bank accounts. But she still needed to help mom (who had dementia) with her finances, so she had the bank add her to the mom's account as a POA. This way, their money was now separated but the daughter could have access to mom's money for bill paying & etc.
This was the advice given by the state financial worker with whom we were working, based on my state's rules. It would be best for you to consult with a financial worker in your state and/or an elder law attorney who ****specializes in Medicaid Planning****. Just any elder law attorney won't do- they need to really understand your state's Medicaid rules, otherwise you might wind up wasting money on attorney fees.
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Please, please, please consult an elder care attorney. Otherwise, you will end up in a s#÷tstorm like me. My Mom and I had a joint account, and because I have been taking care of her by myself for more than 10 years (I have 3 siblings), and couldn't take a job outside the home, she would give me money. Now, because we had such an informal relationship with the money, I'm being accused of stealing--by the siblings who are jealous of her generosity towards me. A gift to me is a statement to them. They're not worried about there being enough money for Mom. They're worried about there being less for them, because I'm spending down assets for her care and taking her to see relatives and places from her youth before her dementia progresses. We signed an informal agreement stating I'm her caregiver, but they're saying she wasn't lucid. She certainly was and was the one who suggested to me that we should "get something down on paper". Now I'm having to defend myself against these false accusations in addition to the 36 hour days I live with Mom. I'm begging you, please get advice. Good luck to you.
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Like they r saying, u have to watch what u do or u can be made to pay for her care.
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I should have said use all her money DOWN to $2000 -- that is spend it all until she has only $2K left in order to be eligible for this assistance.
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I'm just beginning this process with my Mom as well so I'm sure there will be others with more information and, hopefully, an elder attorney will also respond. But I think the answer to your question will depend on two things: 1) whether any of the money in the account actually came from you/your funds and 2) whether you can prove that. Medicaid is assistance to our Moms that is paid for by taxpayers. As such, is not intended to preserve assets or transfer assets to heirs but only to care for those who are truly destitute. That's why we have to use up all of her money on her care (up to $2000) and why she has to spend all of her own monthly income (less some really small monthly amount which I think is $30) on her care prior to Medicaid picking up the balance up to whatever amount they pay. My mother and I have joint accounts but that was only to facilitate me paying her bills; the money was all hers going in and its all hers coming out. Medicaid looks at everything the person owns/HAS OWNED for a period of five years back from the time eligibility is being established. It appears the burden is going to be on Mom/me to prove that she spent it all on herself without making any substantial transfers of property or money to family during that period. And I'm assuming that they will look especially carefully at any movement of money during that final "spend down" period during which, with limited exceptions such as purchasing pre-paid burial (up to $5K in her state) she can only spend money ON HER CARE . I've read/been told that to do otherwise may be deemed fraud and will result in delays or even penalties or a denial of Medicaid to Mom. So, if half or any portion of the money that was used to purchase the CD and/or deposited in the savings account was yours then you'll want to dig out any records that will show that. I think the bank will help you as, according to Mom's bank, they do this kind of thing every day (e.g., give the state Medicaid agency copies of Mom's bank statements and CHECKS! for the last five years!). If the house was sold within the last five years, you'll need all that documentation too. This looks to me like it's going to be a tedious and time-consuming process to gather all this documentation -- the Medicaid Coordinator at Mom's facility says it takes at least three months. But neither Mom or her family could begin to pay for her care for the rest of her life so I'm mighty grateful this taxpayer assistance is available as more and more people are outliving their resources. Good luck in this journey, Paul!
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Paul, your question became lost. Usually if the account is newer than five years it is assumed that it belongs to the parent because it is a common way that families try to hide money from Medicaid, which require spending down of assets to qualify for that program.

Why was the money put into this joint account? Is it actually Mom's money? I would advise you to contact an elder law attorney with expertise in Medicaid planning.
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Consult an elder affairs attorney. We are working with an attorney to have assets converted to single owner.

Please explain what you call the spend down phase.
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