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How to spend down Medicaid assets (safely)

Spending down your assets is the term used to describe the reduction of your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. There are some assets that are not required to be sold or spent in order to be eligible for Medicaid. These are called noncountable assets, and they include the home, a car, household goods and furnishings, personal effects, prepaid funeral and burial expenses and cash limited to $3,000 for a couple. However, the decision to exempt certain assets is made based on the factors of each case. The Medicaid program for your state will consider the laws of your state, your marital status, living arrangements and other circumstances.

Here are some of the expenses for which it is permissible in most states to spend down your money or assets. When applying for Medicaid, you can spend down your assets on any legitimate debt belonging to you or your spouse. Such debts include mortgage payments, medical bills, rent, utilities, car payments, taxes and credit cards. Full or partial payments of the aforementioned expenses, as well as prepayments of loans, are also acceptable. However, since there are differences in each state, it is recommended that you inquire about the laws of your state or seek advice from an estate planning attorney.

However, prepaid amounts to caregivers are disallowed for services that have not yet been rendered. Such a prepayment will be considered a gift, and will cause the applicant to be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. Similarly, prepayment of any expense prior to the time at which the service is rendered or the applicant receives the benefit, is also disallowed.

A Medicaid applicant can purchase noncountable assets, such as an exempt home or car if the applicant or his or her spouse will be operating the car. In addition, payments made for the maintenance or improvements of a noncountable asset, such as a home, are permitted.

Due to drastic changes in the Medicaid program, those who are members of the middle class will also be eligible. And those who are not disabled or in long-term care facilities, will not have to spend down their assets as long as their Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) complies with income requirements.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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