How to Help Seniors Protect Their Assets
How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Home Costs
6 Steps To Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Care Costs
A living trust can protect assets from a nursing home only if the trust is irrevocable. An irrevocable trust can provide asset protection because with this type of trust, the grantor — the trust creator — doesn’t own assets in the trust from a legal standpoint.
A nursing home can’t “go after” a person’s home or other assets. The way it works is that when a person goes into a nursing home they have to find a way to pay for the cost of their care. But Medicaid requires that a person only have limited income and assets before it will start to pay for care.
The general rule is that if a senior applies for Medicaid, is deemed otherwise eligible but is found to have gifted assets within the five-year look-back period, then they will be disqualified from receiving benefits for a certain number of months. This is referred to as the Medicaid penalty period.
The main downside to an irrevocable trust is simple: It’s not revocable or changeable. You no longer own the assets you’ve placed into the trust. In other words, if you place a million dollars in an irrevocable trust for your child and want to change your mind a few years later, you’re out of luck.
Your assets are not protected from Medicaid in a revocable trust because you retain control of them. The primary benefit of a revocable trust is that you can name a beneficiary who will receive payouts from the trust after your death.
You cannot deliberately look to avoid care fees by gifting your property or putting a house in trust to avoid care home fees. This is known as deprivation of assets.
For a simple irrevocable trust, you could expect to pay $900 on the low end for legal fees. For more complicated trusts, you can expect to pay as much as $3,500 to an estate planning attorney.
The main benefit of putting your house in a trust is that it bypasses probate when you pass away. All of your other assets, whether or not you have a will, will go through the probate process. Probate is the judicial process that your estate goes through when you die.
With a revocable trust, your assets will not be protected from creditors looking to sue. That’s because you maintain ownership of the trust while you’re alive. Therefore if you lose a lawsuit and a judgment is awarded to the creditor, the trust may have to be closed and the money handed over.
Inheritance Advantages Putting your house in an irrevocable trust removes it from your estate, reveals NOLO. Unlike placing assets in an revocable trust, your house is safe from creditors and from estate tax. If you use an irrevocable bypass trust, it does the same for your spouse.
Neither the state nor the federal government has any particular requirements about how the Social Security check gets to the nursing home. In that case, the check could come to the resident or the spouse in the community and they would be responsible for paying the balance to the nursing home.
If your name is on a joint account and you enter a nursing home, the state will assume the assets in the account belong to you unless you can prove that you did not contribute to it. This means that either one of you could be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time, depending on the amount of money in the account.
You will still get your Basic State Pension or your New State Pension if you move to live in a care home. However, if your care home fees are paid in full or part by the local authority, NHS or out of other public funds, you may have to use your State Retirement Pension to pay a contribution to the cost of care.