Dear Harry: My mother is in her early 80s and not in the best of health. She has CDs that total about $300,000 plus a few shares of stock. She wants to make sure that I get these assets when she dies, so she is considering giving me a gift of the money now and going on Medicaid if her SS and small pension are not enough to carry her. We are getting conflicting reports on whether I can be held responsible for her care because of the gift. Is this something you would recommend?
What Harry says: In a word, hellno! First of all, there's a "lookback" period of five years from the time she applies for Medicaid. That means that they will treat her assets as though the gift were never made. Second, her savings and investments were made to protect her future. If she fails to use them for this purpose and needs public help, and you get the inheritance, it's as if you are getting help from public funds. I don't condone such actions as a matter of personal ethics. I must add that not all those involved in elder planning agree with my position. I'm certain that you can find a professional who will try to accomplish what you are looking for. *