Looking for an extra something special for your adult children this holiday season? Do you want to give gifts of money to them? Were you aware that monetary gifts can impact Medicaid eligibility for a senior Wisconsin adult? Unfortunately, if you needed to apply for Medicaid in the next five years, did you know that your gifts could have significant consequences? If you answered yes to these questions, be aware that the impact could be on both the giver and receiver.
In regard to the gift giver, the IRS allows a tax-free annual gift per person with an unlimited amount of donees. However, be aware, this relates to tax law planning, not for Medicaid eligibility.
When it comes to gifting, Medicaid takes a different stance. While a person tries to obtain Medicaid eligibility, his or her assets will be reviewed and there is a “Look-Back” period of sixty months, depending upon the state. Now this is very important, if it is found that the Medicaid applicant gifted money, or made an uncompensated transfer, in order to be eligible for Medicaid, the penalty can be Medicaid ineligibility. The length of time of ineligibility is determined by the amount of the gift and the average cost of a private pay nursing home in the area.
What can a senior adult do? There may be some options for the person deemed ineligible for Medicaid due to gift giving. The gifter could collect the gift back, or reimbursement, in order to “undo” the penalty. Even if possession of the money makes the gifted ineligible for Medicaid, he or she can spend it down by temporarily paying for long-term care or making a home modification related to his or her disability until he or she reaches eligibility status. There may also be a possibility of an undue hardship waiver, if Medicaid ineligibility will cause the person to go without medical care, food or shelter.
Now be careful, there may be important impacts on the gift receiver. All states have an asset limit to be Medicaid eligible and it is not very high. Even a small gift can push a potential Medicaid recipient over the eligibility limit.
Fortunately, with the assistance of an experienced Wisconsin elder law attorney, a potential Medicaid recipient has some options if he or she receives a gift. For example, he or she may be able to pay off debt, purchase a funeral plan or a Medicaid eligible annuity. If money is received before applying for Medicaid, the money can also be spent down in a similar fashion.
Contact our office to discuss your options if you will be giving or receiving money or other assets this holiday season and anticipate this may impact your Medicaid eligibility. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.