Here is a recent consumer question I answered on Avvo.com regarding the 60 month Medicaid look back period and the penalty for gifts made within this period.
Will a nursing home come after the owners' personal assets?
My Mother-in-law put her home in her 5 adult children's names, despite us (my husband and me) asking her not to include my husband. That was 2 years ago. It would've cost around $250 for us to remove our name. Now she has to enter a nursing home. If she doesn't have enough in her personal assets to cover the costs, could that ultimately come down on the personal assets of each respective child (in addition to the gifted home)? Additionally, a niece wants to buy the home, but three of the 5 siblings are against that purchase as my MIL greatly reduced the price of the home for the sake of our niece (her granddaughter). I'm not sure if that last bit of information would change the outcome of my personal assets question...
Attorney Thomas B. Burton Response:
There is a 5 year look back period for any gifts made before a person applies for Medicaid assistance from the State of Wisconsin. If your Mother-in-law needs to apply for Medicaid within the next 3 years, then she will need to list this transfer of the home on her application and Medicaid will treat the gift of the home as a divestment and impose a "penalty period" (in months she must wait to qualify for Medicaid) on her calculated using the amount of the gift divided by the amount of months of nursing home care that value of the gift could have paid for. However, if she private pays for her nursing home care until she gets past the 5 year look back period, then there should not be a problem for her if she ultimately needs to apply for Medicaid after that point. As far as personal liability for you, Medicaid should not come after any of your personal assets for any repayment owed to them by your Mother-in-law or her estate, however, it is possible they could attach a lien to your Mother-in-law's home to seek repayment. I suggest your Mother-in-law meet with a qualified elder law attorney who can analyze the facts of your specific situation and provide you with the best advice possible for this situation.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. You should seek a consultation with a licensed attorney in your area if you seek a complete review and discussion of your situation.