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LTC Bullet: Good Advice from a NAELA Attorney

Monday October 12, 1998


One of the most commonly asked questions to elder law attorneys is "Should I give away my property to qualify for Medicaid's long-term care benefits?"

In their firm's client newsletter, founding member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Cheryl Mitchell, and partner Ferd Mitchell, answer this question very sensibly as follows:

"If you keep your money and later use it for your care, then you will have more choices about the
types of care you can receive. While most nursing homes accept Medicaid, many of the assis-
ted living facilities and adult family homes do not. If you give away your money to qualify for Medicaid, then you may not be able to live in the place you would want, and you may have to wait before you can apply for Medicaid because of program rules.

"Before you decide to give away your hard-earned savings, think about what you would want if you were not able to live in your own home. If you are healthy, then you should consider keeping your money rather than giving it away. If you do give away your money or property to obtain Medicaid, remember that you cannot get the money or property back--once it is gone, it is gone forever.

"There is also an issue about whether gifts to qualify for Medicaid are allowed by the law. All
decisions about whether to make gifts should be made only after a full understanding of all the

It is unfortunate that reasonable voices in the elder law community such as those of Cheryl and Ferd Mitchell are too often drowned out by Medicaid planning hype. The real losers are Medicaid planning clients who become acutely aware of the down sides of giving away assets only after it's too late.

Source: Mitchell Office Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1998, p. 2. Mitchell Law Office, 28 West Augusta, Spokane, WA 99205.

Note: Cheryl and Ferd Mitchell have co-authored an article on abuse of the elderly to be published in the November 1998 issue of the Washington State Bar Association's (WSBA) Bar News. Cheryl is also co-chair for an Oct. 15, 1998 WSBA Continuing Legal Education Program, "How to Handle Elder Law Cases: Cutting Edge Strategies and Remedies." Contact the WSBA for more information on Cheryl's program and Bar News subscriptions.
ph: (206)727-8202; web site: