Q: I have a joint account with my father, he is requiring nursing home stay, can they deplete the account?
I was just informed that the c0-pay for the nursing home will be $170 per day. We have about $8000 in the account. Can they take all the money in the account?
A: Depends on the original source of the money, and when your name was put on the account. I assume your father needs to qualify for Medicaid to pay the nursing home care, and to do so Medicaid requires that your father use his own assets until he has paid down to the level necessary to receive Medicaid coverage (down to about $2,500). If all the money in the joint account belonged to your father, and your name was only added within the past 5 years to the account, then all or part of it will be included as if it was your father's money. If, however, this account includes money you have earned or deposited into it, or you can show your father put your name on the account more than 5 years ago intending to gift half to you, and argument might be made that only half the money is your father's. If your father owns a home, then other rules apply regarding whether the home is included in the asset determination (meaning, the home would have to be sold and the proceeds used to cover the nursing home expenses before Medicaid kicks in). There are a number of exemptions for the home, however, including if there is a spouse on the title residing in the home, whether there is a care taker for your father (such as yourself) residing in the home, and whether your father has spent on overnight in the home in the preceding year, all of which exempt the home from having to be sold immediately before Medicaid will start paying. If there a assets of this nature, you must meet with an elder care lawyer to review the Medicaid rules on counting assets, and educate yourself on what you can and cannot do to protect or exempt those assets from the Medicaid calculus.
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