Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid

Tumblr_m44fzypxpc1qbr0g2o1_1280Medicaid qualifications tend to vary from state to state. Generally, there exist some asset thresholds that may not be exceeded in order to qualify for aid. With Republicans in Congress seeking legislation aimed at reducing Medicaid benefits, ethical concerns regarding hiding wealth in order to achieve qualification have been forced back into the limelight.

There are two well-defined perspectives when it comes to hiding assets: those that refuse to do it, and those who are perfectly willing to hide their property in order to qualify for Medicaid. Janet Kinzer offered a poignant rebuke to those hiding assets: “People who engage in such planning are privileged enough to be aware of it and can afford the legal fees. Shouldn’t tax dollars only go toward the care of people who lack such access?”

While a fair point, there are a number of rebuttals, including the general unavailability of benefits for those suffering from dementia and other degenerative diseases; maladies that often require highly skilled care and constant supervision for extended periods of time. When faced with the very real possibility of exhausting every penny of saved wealth and leaving nothing to children in order to pay for long-term care, this ethical consideration becomes a bit less black-and-white for many. 

A quick warning, if you are ethically comfortable hiding assets to gain Medicaid benefits, be sure to hire a qualified attorney to help with the process. The intricacies of hiding assets is extremely convoluted, complex, and may have unintended consequences if undertaken without competent legal assistance.

See Ron Liber, The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid, The New York Times, July 21, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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