Relating to Elder Law, how can we save some of our mother's money so that a nursing home or the state does not take it all?

Asked over 2 years ago - Boston, MA

Our mother is will be going to a nusring home soon, what is the best way to save some of her money so that a nursing home or the state does not take it all? We have heard it can be gifted, or could we put it in an esacroe in case she needs it later on?

Attorney answers (9)

  1. 14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Before you do anything, I recommend that you find an Elder Law Attorney and discuss your mother's needs and her history to determine the potiential that she could qualify for public benefits. Suffice to say that there may be some planning strategies available to her so as to preserve a legacy. But without proper planning, you could end up shooting yourself in the foot.

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in... more
  2. 13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are partially correct however there are time limitations regarding how far back the Commonwealth may look back. I suggest that you meet with an Elder Law or Estate Planning Attorney who can explain this in greater detail.

    I wish you all the best.

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Waltham.... more
  3. 12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No online answer is going to work for you. Go see an Elder Law Attorney right away. That lawyer can review all of the facts and give you the best advice. There are things that can be done and ways to do it better or worse. You need to find out what options will work (or not) in your mother's situation. Keep in mind that sometimes spending money is not a bad thing and "saving" it for the children is not always the top priority. You need to figure out your priorities and do what is right for your mother.

    DISCLAIMER This above comments by Attorney Adamsky, are provided for general informational purposes only, and do... more
  4. 11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This needs to be handled VERY carefully, since transfers of an elder's assets prior to going into a nursing home can cause a lengthy period of disqualification for medicaid benefits at precisely the time the elder needs those benefits. This calls for a consultation with a medicaid planning lawyer. Some kinds of assets can be transferred in a certain way (for example, when family home is transferred, but elder retains life estate in the home) so as to avoid the period of disqualification for medicaid benefits. With transfers, the exact result of any particular transaction can be known with certainty in advance simply by requesting a ruling. So it is imperative that you consult with someone knowledgeable who can help you evaluate whether transfers are in your mother's interest. Your county bar association will likely be able to refer you to someone appropriate.

    Not legal advice as I don't practice law in Massachusetts. It's just my two cents on the facts you present in light of general principles of law. If you need legal advice--YOU DO NEED LEGAL ADVICE--please consult a lawyer who holds Massachusetts licensure and practices in the elder law/medicaid planning area.

  5. 9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There are various techniques that can protect assets/income when a loved one requires long term care. Not all techniques are useful for everyone. It is essential to obtain individual advice from a local elder law attorney.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law... more
  6. 6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I can't tell you what is the "best way" to preserve your mother's assets -- or even if they can be preserved at all -- because the answer depends on the specific facts of her situation. An elder law attorney will review your mother's finances and provide you guidance concerning what can and cannot be done. If your mother is not competent, you will need the attorney to review your Durable Power of Attorney to determine what the document allows you to do in this regard.

    E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are... more
  7. 4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Thank you for your question.

    As the others have mentioned, there are so many moving parts in a situation like this, you would really help your mother by making an appointment with an estate planning attorney who works with elders. There are a number of strategies that might be employed, but whether they are available to your mother or make sense financially really depends on a number of factors.

    I certainly would not make any gifts or transfers without speaking to someone, as you could negatively affect your mother's position.

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts.... more
  8. 5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Many people set up a trust BUT the look back period is five years.

    Immediately consult with an estate plan lawyer. You may find, however, you've waited too long.

  9. 1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You absolutely need to meet with an "Elder Law" attorney. I think what you are asking is whether you can get some type of benefit to pay for the nursing home care your mother needs.

    Normally this is Medicaid.

    Medicaid differs slightly in every state (i.e. in Alabama where I am the rules can be different than in MA) but the general principles are the same. Medicaid looks to see if your mother has transferred any assets within (normally) the last five years. If so, there can be penalties where she will not qualify for Medicaid even though she has very limited assets and income.

    Speaking of assets and income, you need to speak with a MA elder law lawyer to find out exactly what are the requirements in MA to qualify -- the amount of assets and income she can have.

    Don't assume you know what these are or that the nursing home or social worker or your CPA etc knows which assets count and which don't. It can get complicated.

    There are ways to potentially preserve some of her assets -- your MA elder law lawyer can help you with this.

    I don't know what the amount of assets your mother has but given that the family will be facing nursing home bills of 5,000 or 10,000 a month, it makes sense to spend some money and time with a competent elder law lawyer to find out your mother's rights and options.

    Best wishes -- know this is a difficult situation but having answers will really help you and your mother to make the right decision.

    John Watts
    Birmingham, Alabama

    No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal... more

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