Living Trust and Medicaid

Living trusts are often promoted as the "cure all for whatever ails ya". But, putting your assets in a living trust can cause big problems if you later try to qualify for medicaid.

-- By K. Gabriel Heiser, Attorney

You've probably gotten a postcard or seen an ad for a seminar on "Living Trusts" and all the benefits they supposedly offer you. Basically, a Living Trust is a trust you create and fund during your life and which you retain the ability to change and revoke at any time. They have their place and can be quite useful, in the right circumstances, but the question of today is whether they are useful if you may be applying for Medicaid.

The problem with Living Trusts for someone applying for Medicaid is that everything titled in the name of the Living Trust is considered an available asset, even if it was exempt outside of the Living Trust. For instance, your home is exempt (up to $500,000), but if you deed it into your Living Trust, it suddenly loses its exemption. That alone can cause you to become ineligible for Medicaid, forcing you to deed your house out of the Trust back into your own name. The same would be true of your car or even your other personal property.

Now bank accounts and investments can certainly be titled in the name of the Living Trust, since such assets are countable whether they are titled in your name or in the Trust's name. However, if you are single, you will have to spend down those assets in any case, in order to qualify for Medicaid, so that's a dubious benefit.

Since you basically have to withdraw all the Trust assets and retitle them back into your own name, as you can see it makes absolutely no sense to pay an attorney to create a Living Trust for you if you are single and facing long-term care, and if you think that you may need or want to apply for Medicaid at some point.

If you are married, it is possible for the Community Spouse (i.e., the spouse not in the nursing home) to have assets titled in the name of a Living Trust, but there is usually little advantage to doing so in a state like Colorado which has relatively inexpensive and simple probate procedures.

As a matter of fact, there is a type of trust that the Community Spouse can set up to be funded after the death of the Community Spouse, which can hold assets for the benefit of the nursing home spouse yet not count against that spouse's Medicaid eligibility. However, such a trust cannot be used in a Living Trust and can only be used in a Will.

So the lesson of all this is that Living Trusts may be useful for general estate planning purposes but are inappropriate--or worse--in a Medicaid planning situation.

K. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with over 25 years experience in elder law and estate planning. Heiser is the author of “How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets,” an annually updated practical guide for the layperson. For more information about this book, visit Medicaid Secrets. Read more about the pitfalls of using a living trust for medicaid planning at medicaid trust.

Here’s our Medicad Trust.

New! Comments

Leave a comment about this article in the box below and share it with your Facebook friends.

Have a Medicaid Question or Comment?

We'd love to hear your questions, comments or opinions. Submit them here and other visitors can read them and comment on them. An e-mail address is not required.

The purpose of this feature is to stimulate discussion and share experiences regarding topics of interest. However, please note these submissions are not reviewed for legal accuracy. They may not apply to your situation and should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal advice you must consult with your attorney.

Medicaid Planning: Life Estate in House | Does the $13,000 Gift Tax Exemption apply to Medicaid? | Medicaid and Community Spouse Assets | Planning For Medicaid Coverage | Effect of Life Insurance Proceeds On Medicaid Eligibility | New Medicaid Annuity Rule Explained | How Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Used in Medicaid Planning? | Selling the House and Medicaid Qualification | How To Qualify For Medicaid If My House Is Worth More Than $500,000? | What is Elder Law? | What Is An Inheritor's Trust? | Should I Take Out a Loan Against My House to Pay For A Nursing Home? | Can I Give My House to My Child and Qualify for Medicaid? | Elder Care Lawyer Fees | Choosing A Nursing Home | Do I Need a Will? | Capacity To Sign a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney | Second Marriage Will Issues | Special Needs Trust Issues | What is a Common Law Marriage? | What is a Medicaid Annuity? | How does a Medicaid Annuity Work? | How To Protect My Home and Still Qualify for Medicaid | Medicaid and Spousal Will Election | Do It Yourself Medicaid Planning | Medicaid Rules and Reverse Mortgages | How Does Life Insurance Policy Ownership Affect Medicaid Eligibility? | Medicaid Estate Recovery Rules | Medicaid Estate Recovery Planning | Limitations on Medicaid Estate Recovery | Do Medicaid Plans Work? | Nursing Home Costs and Payment Options | Don't Be Too Cheap! | What Happens to My Home If I Go On Medicaid? | Can Spouse Receiving Medicaid Pay Income to Community Spouse? | Will Medicaid Exempt My Home If I Leave It? | Tips for Discussing Wills and Powers of Attorney With Your Parents | Elderly Marriage Issues | Durable Power of Attorney Medicaid Considerations |

From Living Trust and Medicaid to Medicaid Questions | Estate Planning Blog | Basics of Estate Planning | Selecting a Financial Planner | Estate Planning and Taxes | Is This Good Time to Buy a House? | Incorporate My Business | Best Low Cost Investment | Fringe Benefit Plans | Estate Planning and Charitable Giving | Health Insurance Comparisons | Best Medicare Supplement Plan | Retirement and Estate Planning | What is a Power of Attorney? | Current Estate Planning News | Estate Planning Forum | Estate Planning Books | Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney | Find a Probate Attorney | Estate Planning Questions |

Return to Home Page

About Us | Contact Us | Site Search | Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Subscribe to
Estate Planning Hub

Your First Name

Your E-mail Address

We keep this private.

Follow the Estate Planning Blog.

--by Beth Heikkinen
Marquette, Michigan
I just want to thank you for this site. It answered my questions. I think many people that do research on the net take it for granted and when they find what they are looking for they forget "someone put time, money, etc into providing me with this information."

Thank you!

Like This Site

Visit Our Social Media Pages

Become a Fan of Estate Planning Hub on Facebook Follow EstatePlanningHub on Twitter Follow EstatePlanningHub on Google+ Subscribe EstatePlanningHub Video on YouTube

Get a PDF version of this website and its sister site here.