Jul 28, 2021 Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts in New York (MAPTs): How They Work
Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, also called Irrevocable “Income Only” Trusts or Medicaid Trusts, are used to help those who are getting older shield some of their assets and permit them to meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid long-term care in New York.
Can an Irrevocable Trust Protect Your Assets From Medicaid?
Yes, it can. An irrevocable trust is a type of trust created by a senior that names an individual as the trustee who will watch over the assets in the trust. With an irrevocable trust, the creator of the trust can’t use the trust assets or change the terms of the trust in any way or for any reason—that’s why it’s called an irrevocable trust. Those trust assets are “locked in” and are then the property of the trust rather than the creator’s. When a senior’s assets are transferred into an irrevocable trust, those assets will not be countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes, as long as the assets are transferred into the trust on a date preceding any Medicaid-imposed lookback period.
Note that the assets in an irrevocable trust can’t be withdrawn except by the trustee for their intended purpose.
What Assets Can You Have And Still Qualify For Medicaid?
In New York, not every asset a senior owns will be counted (“countable assets”) for purposes of Medicaid eligibility for long-term care. The following are considered countable assets:
- Bank Accounts (savings and checking accounts);
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs);
- Life insurance policies with a combined face value of more than $1,500 – the cash value is considered an asset;
- Property that you own as a as a vacation home;
- Rental property income;
- Stocks and bonds; and
However, these types of assets are not counted as assets for Medicaid eligibility in New York:
- Qualified IRA’s and 401K’s in payout status;
- Personal belongings and household items (such as home furniture and jewelry);
- A motor vehicle;
- Life insurance policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less;
- A burial fund of up to $1,500 per household member, as long as the funds are held separately from other assets and clearly identifiable as a burial fund;
- Pre-paid funeral agreements (that are non-refundable); and
- Equity interest in a primary residence (if the Medicaid applicant lives in the home, or intends to return to the home) and the equity value is less than $906,000 (2021 threshold).
It’s important to also know that New York has an exception to the home exemption rule when the applicant’s spouse lives in the home. In that case, the house is exempt regardless of its equity value.
How Long Before Applying for Medicaid Must a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust be Created?
Any asset transfers in and out of a trust are subject to a 60-month (five-year) “look-back” period. This means that when a senior applies for Medicaid, the government will review his or her past financial records for five years. If a transfer was made within that look-back period, it can create a penalty period of ineligibility for Medicaid.
As a result, a Medicaid asset protection trust must be created years before Medicaid is needed. You should consult with an experienced estate and Medicaid planning attorney to make sure you time your application properly, and in your best interest.
Does a Trust Affect my SSI Benefits?
It may, if the MAPT isn’t set up correctly, or if the trustee pays money from the trust directly to you instead of to the care facility.
The U.S. Social Security Administration cautions that any money paid to you or to someone else directly to provide you with food or shelter will decrease your SSI benefit—but only up to a certain limit. Regardless of how much money is paid for these items, the federal government will subtract no more than $284.66 (in 2021) from your SSI check for the month that you receive the money directly.
However, money paid directly to someone to provide you with items other than food and shelter does not reduce your SSI benefits. For example, items that aren’t classified as food or shelter include medical care, phone bills, education, and entertainment.
Long-term care is expensive, especially in New York. It can exhaust your life savings rather quickly. A way to help manage this cost is to qualify for Medicaid by using the expertise of a New York Medicaid asset protection planning attorney to create an irrevocable trust to shield much of your assets. A Medicaid asset protection trust may be an essential strategy for your situation.
Speak with the experienced attorneys at Ely J. Rosenzveig & Associates, P.C. and discuss how this approach works and help with the process.
We are trusted estate and Medicaid planning attorneys serving White Plains, New York, Westchester County, and the tri-state area.