Medicaid can be a blessing to those who have few assets; however, qualifying for long-term care with Medicaid can be difficult. Many states, including Missouri, are trying to increase the amount of money people put toward their own care in order to make Medicaid funds cover a growing elderly population. A long-standing requirement when applying to Medicaid is the five year look-back period which is a period during which any gifts or transfers of assets will be counted against the applicant.
Five Year Look-Back Period for Medicaid in St. Louis
In St. Louis, the five-year look back period is something that each application is subjected to during the application process. Medicaid workers look back through all of your financial records for the five years prior to your application date to find countable assets that you might have sold or given away. These assets could disqualify you from receiving Medicaid funds. Understandably, many people try to transfer or give away assets prior to applying for Medicaid in St. Louis because they want their kids or another loved one to have the assets instead of the state. Unfortunately, the state is aware of this which is why the look-back period is a requirement.
Certain transfers and gifts are allowable, such as certain transfers to your spouse or a disabled child. But if other transfers or gifts are uncovered, even simple cash gifts to your kids, you could lose eligibility for Medicaid for a certain length of time. The rules governing which transfers are allowed are becoming so tight that it is risky to make any gifts or transfers within five years of applying for Medicaid in St. Louis. If you think you might need to apply for Medicaid at any point within the next few years, consult a with your estate planning attorney before making any asset transfers. Do not give anything to anyone until you clear it with the attorney unless you are willing to risk incurring a penalty.
There’s one more catch regarding the five year look-back: gifts to you. Say, for example, you go into a nursing home and are using your money to pay for care, but things are getting tight. Your kids give you cash to ease the situation, but eventually you decide to apply for Medicaid in St. Louis. That cash given to you by your kids might be counted as part of your own assets even though it was meant strictly for your expenses in the nursing home. For this reason, be sure to talk to your estate planning attorney before you accept any gifts from anyone as well.