Estate Planning and Elder Law: Why Proactive Planning is Essential for Medicaid Eligibility

Understanding the Importance of Early Estate Planning Estate planning, particularly with an elder law focus, is a critical aspect that many families overlook until it's almost too late. A common scenario we encounter at Godbey Law is families contacting us just before a loved one, such as a parent, enters a nursing home. Often, the primary concern is to transfer the deed of the house to a family member to ensure the loved one qualifies for Medicaid. This last-minute rush is fraught with misconceptions and potential pitfalls, particularly regarding Medicaid's look-back period and the enforcement of liens. The Myth of Immediate Asset Transfers A prevalent myth is that transferring a property right before a loved one enters a nursing home will help them qualify for Medicaid without repercussions. Unfortunately, this belief can lead to significant legal and financial challenges. Medicaid has a strict five-year look-back period during which any transfer of assets can be scrutinized. If any such transfers are found within this period, the individual may face penalties, including a delay in Medicaid eligibility. Ohio Medicaid and Estate Recovery What many people don’t realize is that Ohio Medicaid aggressively pursues estate recovery. This means that even if the deed is transferred to a family member, Medicaid can place liens on the property to recover costs after the recipient's death. These liens can significantly complicate and delay the process of settling an estate, potentially causing financial distress for the family members who were intended to benefit from the property transfer. [...]