We Can Help You Preserve Georgia Medicaid Eligibility

"I recently became widowed and am nearing retirement. Will adding my child's name to the title on my house or my bank accounts protect those assets if I need to become eligible for Medicaid benefits?"

In short, no.

In Georgia, Medicaid regulations state that adding someone else's name to a bank account or mutual fund does not transfer the ownership on that account. Absent a really good explanation, the state of Georgia assumes that the child's name was added merely for convenience purposes and the entire account still belongs to the parent. So even though the child's name has been added to a property deed or financial account, the value of the assets are still counted for Medicaid eligibility purposes.

This is true whether we are talking about bank accounts, certificates of deposit, savings bonds, mutual funds or any other liquid assets. The law says there is no gift unless and until the child actually takes the money out of the account.

For example, if you simply add your daughter to a bank account but she takes no money from that account, there's no transfer. She has to take some money out of that "joint account" and move it to an account that she doesn't share with you — and it's at that time and only in that amount that there is an actual transfer. Even here you have a problem, however, because the transfer is considered a gift. Gifts are countable assets for the entire five-year Medicaid look-back- period and will be disqualifying for Medicaid purposes until spent down.

Adding names to real estate creates the same problems. If someone's name is added to real estate, then at the time the deed is signed and recorded there is a completed gift that has been made. And remember, a gift of only $40,000 would cause the giver to be ineligible for Medicaid for months and months under Georgia law.

Thus, whether it makes sense to add someone's name to real estate of financial assets depends upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case. Be sure to seek the advice of a competent and experienced elder law attorney before committing yourself to a strategy that might not work.

Serving Clients All Along The 400 Corridor North Of The Perimeter

At Hodges Law Firm, LLC, in Cumming, Georgia, we've been providing clients from throughout the Atlanta area with answers to questions like this one and Medicare/Medicaid planning solutions for more than 30 years. We are here to help you explore your options too. Contact us online or by telephone at 404-824-4225 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers today.

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