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NFL Seat Licenses and Medicaid — Huh?

I met with a family with the following scenario.  Dad needed nursing home care and the family had done no long term planning.  We talked about how under Medicaid rules the coupleâs assets would be counted, divided in half and that Mom would be able to keep 50% of the assets up to a maximum of $109,540 and the home.  We went through a list of their investments.  I then asked if they had anything else of value.  Son, Joe, mentioned that Dad had just signed up for Jets season tickets at the new stadium the Giants and Jets will be opening in 2010.  âWe want to keep the tickets in the familyâ, he said.  âDad can just transfer them to us, right?â  That got me thinking.  âIâm not so sureâ, I replied.


            If youâre a sports fan, by now you know all about seat licenses.  Both the Giants and Jets are selling season tickets in a new way.  Before you can have the privilege of buying a game ticket you must pay a fee, called a seat license.  The better the seat, the higher the fee.  Joe told me that the license for his familyâs seats cost Dad $60,000.  So, what do you think will happen if Dad just transfers his seats and later applies for Medicaid?


            Certainly there is no mention of NFL seat licenses in any state Medicaid regulations.  But, doesnât the license have a value?  Teams are telling their fans that they can resell the license, that itâs really an investment.  It isnât a stretch, then, for the State to treat the transfer of the license from one generation to another as a transfer for less than fair value subject to a Medicaid penalty.  Especially since the State is facing huge budget deficits and can ill afford to pay out benefits to huge numbers of its residents.  So, do I think that the State will let it go?  Not likely.


            Back to Joe and his parents.  I told him that any transfer of the seat license had to be for fair value.  But, thatâs easier said than done.  No one really knows what resale value they have since the licenses are brand new and canât even be resold yet.  There is a lesson to be learned though.  Families with season ticket plans may want to consider transferring them to the next generation while healthy.  Just another reason itâs a good idea to plan for long term care, and if youâre a Jet fan like me, you donât want to miss out on the possibility of a Super Bowl trip.  Itâs gotta happen one of these years â right?