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Michigan Elder Law Today

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Medicaid Part 9 - Unavailable Assets

Unavailable Assets and Medicaid

Some assets are considered "unavailable" by Michigan's Department of Human Services when qualifying for Medicaid. This means you can keep these assets and qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits. These are usually going to be assets registered in certain types of Trusts. Trusts with long-term care planning provisions may be created and funded by an applicant or a spouse, and the assets may be used to provide for the needs of the applicant or spouse without the assets being categorized as countable resources for Medicaid. These exceptions are as follows:

  • Assets registered in a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or an Irrevocable Trust for VA (Veterans) Purposes if more than 5 years have passed since ownership of the assets was registered in the trust.
  • Testamentary trusts. Assets in a trust created by a Last Will and Testament are not counted. This is true regardless of when the trust was created or the extent to which the assets in the trust are available to meet the needs of the Medicaid recipient. This means that if a married couple is planning ahead, their estate plan can provide that at the time of the passing of the first spouse, some or all of the assets are protected for the surviving spouse and available for their needs, but are not at risk for nursing home costs. Unfortunately, few people have such a provision in their estate plan. This type of trust can be created with a specific type of revocable trust and Last Will and Testament so that long, drawn-out probate proceedings are avoided.
  • Assets in a Sole Benefit Trust established for the community spouse (described in more detail in the in the Case Study, Part 2).

In addition, certain jointly owned assets may be considered unavailable, which will be discussed in the next post.


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