Skip to main content

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?

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. 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.


  2. 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. My practice is focused in the areas of family law, estate planning, probate, elder law, landlord-tenant and employment law. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. Please contact me with questions and concerns at: (T): 781-647-8100 (E): josh@ccrlawgroup.com I wish you all the best.


  3. 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 Reading.. My practice is focused in the areas of elder law, estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.


  4. 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. 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 not constitute legal advice. These comments are general in nature and not specific legal advice, which requires more thorough knowledge of the situation and an agreement with the recipient to receive legal advice. Online posts and responses to questions only provide general insights on the general subject matter and are not specifically directed to the questioner’s legal need. Many answers and postings will not be accurate in all states, and are since most postings are not or cannot be updated to reflect changes in the law they may quickly become inaccurate and even completely wrong. Do not rely on older postings. No person should take action based on the information provided on Avvo.com or any other law-themed website without first consulting a local attorney with significant experience in your area of concern. No information presented by anyone online is confidential in nature, and no online reading or writing will create an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorney who answers the question. Attorney Adamsky is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Some online content constitutes attorney advertising, and as such is directed to consumers and potential clients for advertising purposes only.


  6. 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 SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com 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 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 SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com 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.


  7. 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 for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.


  8. 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. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at www.vaughnmartel.com.


  9. 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
    www.AlabamaElderLawyer.com

    No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. I am only licensed in Alabama and no information is intended to be legal advice. Instead, it is simply general education information to help encourage you to speak with a licensed lawyer in your state.

Wills and estates topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics