Inheritances and Medicaid: Be Careful, Plan Ahead
Mistakes can be made when it comes to inheritances and Medicaid. Those mistakes can be costly.
When a person is drawing Medicaid benefits and inherits money or property, that inheritance jeopardizes the benefits. The inheritance must be handled carefully to minimize expensive penalties. What “careful” means, though, can be misunderstood without the necessary expertise.
The first and best idea is to call experienced elder law attorneys like us. (An even better idea is to call us well before any inheritance becomes a “problem.” The sooner you call us, the more money we can likely protect for you.)
An Ohio attorney was recently suspended partly because he mishandled this Medicaid-inheritance issue. The mistaken advice was that to protect the benefits, the person who stood to inherit should “disclaim” or “renounce” the inheritance – in other words, give it away to someone else.
That advice would have been OK in the tax context. It was not OK in the Medicaid context. The Medicaid rules count inheritances regardless whether the recipient keeps them or passes them on to someone else. The bad result, in such cases, is that the person receiving Medicaid would be charged just as if he or she had taken the money, even if he or she gave it away, and the person’s benefits would be docked accordingly. This can be a very expensive misstep.
The better result would be to consult us immediately. We can advise you on necessary techniques to split the inheritance between the recipient and somebody else, like a child. If the right strategies are used, Medicaid would count the inheritance to an extent, but not as much as it would have if the recipient had simply given away the whole sum.
An even better result would be if the person leaving the inheritance had consulted us first. We know how to structure that person’s financial arrangements, to protect the people to whom the person wants to leave his or her legacy.
Elder law is a law unto itself. We know that complicated area of the law well and we have helped many people successfully meet the challenges it poses. Call on us.