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In last week’s post I told you about two calls I received regarding Medicaid.  In each case the caller was concerned about how credit card charges on a Medicaid applicant’s card affects eligibility. A common misconception about Medicaid is that debts affect eligibility.  Not true, at least in the sense that the State doesn’t care if you have debt.  You can’t simply offset your debt against your assets to get under the $2000 asset limit.   What the State does care about is how you spend down your assets and that includes paying down debt.  For example, each time you make a payment to VISA, MasterCard or American Express to pay down or pay off your credit card bill you are spending down assets.  The question, however, is whose debt are you spending down on? As I stated last week, New Jersey Medicaid is increasingly focusing on credit card statements if they see that an applicant is spending funds to pay those bills.  The State is scrutinizing the charges to determine if those charges are for products or services used by the applicant or by someone other than the applicant. One of the callers told me that her mother’s credit card was used by other family members to make purchases.  She said

In this week’s post I want to tell you about two recent calls we received that highlight the same issue.  Each caller reached out to us concerned about a family member who soon will run out of money to pay for long term care.  Recognizing the need for Medicaid benefits, the callers wanted confirmation that certain charges on a Medicaid applicant’s credit cards would not pose a problem in achieving eligibility. When I asked for more details, in both cases I was told that charges appeared on the soon to be Medicaid applicant’s credit card that were actually made by other family members.  In one instance the caller said it was without her mother’s knowledge.  In the other case it was not known whether previous approval was given or not. One caller asserted that if her mom paid off the credit card it wouldn’t make her ineligible for Medicaid benefits.  She was seeking confirmation that, based on “research done on the internet” she was making an accurate statement. Unfortunately, her statement is incorrect.  In fact, Medicaid, at least in New Jersey, has focused more and more on credit card spending by applicants.  This is a trend I have noticed in the past year.  Now routinely, just about every county is asking

In this third post of three I have been discussing Mary’s call to our office.  She had taken care of her cousin, Sam in his home until his death following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Sam had promised he would leave Mary his home but he never put that in writing in the form of a will. We filed an application asking for Mary to be appointed administrator of Sam’s estate so we could identify the heirs who would be entitled to share Sam’s estate.  Mary believed that she and her sister, as first cousins, would be the heirs but as I explained last week, she mentioned the possibility that Sam’s father had a daughter from a previous marriage. We hired a search company to conduct a genealogical search.  This required establishing Sam’s family tree through public records such as birth certificates and death certificates and other records such as obituary notices. With a little bit of effort we were able to get confirmation of the family rumor of a half sister.  In fact, Sam’s father did have a daughter from a short previous marriage.  To Mary’s knowledge, Sam never met her but that didn’t matter.  Our search results showed that she died 10 years before Sam.  “So is that

In last week’s post I was telling you about Mary’s problem.  She had moved in with and taken care of her cousin, Sam after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.  She had given up the lease on her apartment when she agreed to the arrangement and Sam promised in return to leave her his home when he died. After his death, however, she discovered that he had never executed a will stating this intention.  Nevertheless, Mary had done some initial research and thought that she and her sister would inherit the home under New Jersey’s intestacy laws.  She had called our office to confirm that this was in fact the case and to seek our help with the estate administration process. It was when I asked some follow questions that Mary told me about a family rumor that Sam’s father had a daughter from a previous marriage.  If true, then this sibling would be the closest relative to Sam.  Mary objected that this possible sibling was only a half sibling and did not even know Sam.  I told her that didn’t matter.  Half siblings are treated the same as full siblings and involvement in the decedent’s life did not factor in any determination under the intestacy laws.   These laws are arbitrary in

I have written in this blog previously about the outcome of estate distribution when the decedent (person who died) did not execute a will.  New Jersey intestacy laws predetermine what happens to your assets and it may not be what you want. Mary called because her cousin, Sam had recently died.  Mary had given up her apartment rental to care for Sam in his home after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  She told me that Sam had promised her that he would leave her his home after he died.  Unfortunately, he never put that promise in writing in the form of a will. Instead, I told Mary that the intestacy laws would tell us who would inherit the home, which was in Sam’s name alone and any other probate assets he held.  She told me that Sam did put Mary’s name on his bank accounts but only as agent under power of attorney.  This account then, would also pass by way of the intestacy laws. I then asked Mary about Sam’s family.  Sam never married and never had children.  Both his parents had passed away and Sam and his brother, Stan were their only children.  Stan, however, died at the age of 10 and so had no children of his own.   Mary said she and

In my post last week I told you why I think Medicaid applications have become more difficult to get approved.  This week I will talk about the ways the State has made it more challenging. One way, which I have written about several times over the past few months is the QIT requirement.  I won’t review that here but encourage you to read my post from 2 weeks ago.  There are, however, other changes that have occurred recently. More documentation than ever is required to process a Medicaid application.  Routinely now, many counties require that we produce 5 years of an applicant’s credit card statements so they can examine the charges.  The State wants to determine whether any of the charges are for purchases made for someone other than the Medicaid applicant.   Purchases for others would be subject to a Medicaid penalty, a period of time during which the applicant continues to be ineligible for benefits.  The greater the penalty the longer the period of time before the State has to pay out benefits. In other instances the documents that were once enough to explain transactions are now no longer sufficient.  For example, a copy of a check from an insurance company for a property damage claim against an applicant’s homeowner’s