A previous post on this blog urged Rochester, New York, residents who were thinking about drafting a will to resist the temptation to just give away property to his or her loved ones immediately. As that post pointed out, the problem with doing so is that it leaves a person without the ability to control his or her own property. This can be a scary prospect even for families that seem to be loving and close-knit.
However, in contrast to that advice, a Rochester resident who is looking at the possibility of having to stay in a nursing home may have no choice but to start giving away assets and doing so even earlier than what he or she might have wanted. After all, it may be very hard for all but the wealthiest people to pay for nursing home care out of pocket, and so qualifying for Medicaid may be the only realistic option.
Getting on Medicaid comes with its own set of challenges. For one, a person must be of very limited means to get on to the program, as it is designed to help people in serious need and not just middle class folks who don’t want to spend their fortunes on medical care in the last years of their lives. More importantly, Medicaid also penalizes those who apply for the program but who had given away substantial wealth immediately prior to doing so.
For a person who foresees needing help from Medicaid in order to have proper elder care, it may be worth the financial risk to give away property to loved ones. Of course, this is a difficult decision which, as already discussed, can easily backfire. It takes careful thought and analysis to balance the good of hanging on to property against the good of planning for long-term care, and this process is often best accomplished with the help of an experienced elder law attorney.