Leaving the Door Open for Medicaid Planning is Key

When you prepare the important legal papers that will protect you, your family and your assets when you pass, you will likely obtain powers of attorney and perhaps, a revocable living trust, for smooth, private, and efficient administration. If it is possible for you to be in need of qualifying for Medicaid, then it is super important to consider inserting into your general power of attorney the authority to take steps to dispossess you of your assets and take steps to qualify you for Medicaid. The look back period is five years.
Let’s say Jack (an adult child) comes into my office and tells me his father has passed and his mother is living but she has dementia. Jack wants to do things to help protect mom’s assets. Jack wants to try and make mom eligible for Medicaid. Will Jack be able to do this? The answer is it all depends on whether or not mom had inserted these powers into her general power of attorney.

Jack will be able to protect mom’s assets only if she had a valid general power of attorney signed by her when she had mental capacity that authorizes Jack to take steps to qualify her for Medicaid or other government benefits. Jack will NOT be able to protect mom’s assets if she did not have such a power of attorney.

And so the moral of the story is, if you think you may need to take steps in the future to protect your assets by qualifying for government benefits, then your general power of attorney should authorize this activity.

Quite frequently, when we insert these ASSET PROTECTION POWERS into a power of attorney, we make it so all the children have to act jointly with unanimity with an attorney at law. This makes it so all interested parties will be involved and counsel will be involved so wise actions are taken. The main thrust of this article is that leaving the door open for Medicaid planning is essential in cases where it is warranted.

Contributed to Bluffton Sun by:
Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master in Estate Planning, a local tax, asset protection and estate planning attorney. Submitted for August 14, 2012 publication in Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Island Sun