Pooled Trusts

In a landmark opinion by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, clarity was reached that transfers into a pooled trust can occur without triggering the Medicaid penalty even if the trust beneficiary is over 65 years of age.  The question for many is: 1) when a loved one is in a nursing home can the assets be protected from nursing home expenses and 2) can we set aside and used a loved one’s assets to pay for things Medicaid cannot pay?  For years, the frustrating answer for the use of pooled trusts was “no.”  The problem was the transfer into the trust created a Medicaid penalty.  This is a period of time were the applicant will not qualify for Medicaid (i.e. Medical Assistance in Maryland) under any circumstances for a period of months. So, if the applicant transferred $68,000 into the pooled trust (in 2010), then if she needed Medicaid relief within the next five years she will not qualify for Medicaid relief for ten months (at best, starting when she first seeks benefits).   Removing the penalty period makes sense both from a Maryland policy perspective and a would be applicant’s perspective.  However, even lifting the penalty transfer provisions, the use of a pooled trust is not for every would be Medicaid recipient interested in asset protection.   Please contact your elder law attorney to see if the pooled trust route is the right choice for your circumstance.