In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson wants you to know about Medicaid and joint accounts.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
It’s not uncommon, particularly when one spouse of a married couple dies, for the widow, or widower, to add one or more of their children on that account, often for convenience so they can write checks, and maybe as a way of avoiding probate. So, the misconception is, if that was done more than five years before that person applies for Medicaid, that those other joint tenants can take “their share” of the money out of the account. And that won’t be treated as a gift transfer subject to penalty.
That’s not the case. Here, in fact, is what the rules say: A joint account held by the person who is going to apply for Medicaid, and any other person, is considered as belonging 100% to the Medicaid applicant, no matter how long ago somebody else’s name was added to that account; unless, and to the extent that the other person can prove that, they put more money into the account than they’ve taken out. In the situation I’ve described, that’s seldom, if ever, the case, and if those, if the other joint tenant or tenants, take money out of the account, even if mom has alzheimer’s in a nursing home and has no idea it’s being done, that withdraw of funds to the other joint tenants is going to be treated as a transfer by the applicant subject to penalty, and you’re going to have a real problem.
I think the overall lesson here is, this is one of many, many examples of things where if you don’t really know and understand the rules, you can get in trouble and never know what hit you. And so, you really, really need a competent elder law attorney to guide you through that process. Give us a call, we’ll be happy to help.
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.