Do Not Use Funds from an Irrevocable Trust to Cover the Cost of an Assisted Living Facility

New Jersey irrevocable trust lawyerOftentimes, individuals will put the proceeds from the sale of a house into an irrevocable trust.  When the time comes, an elderly person may move into an assisted living facility, which can be expensive. A trustee of an irrevocable trust may look to use the funds in an irrevocable trust to cover the cost of the assisted living facility. However, the money in an irrevocable trust should not be used to pay for care in an assisted living facility.  The reason being is that an irrevocable trust is only exempt for Medicaid purposes when there are no principal distributions being made to a grantor or in this case to an assisted living facility on an individual’s behalf because doing so would violate the terms of a trust.

When an elderly person is residing in an assisted living facility, it is important to maintain an irrevocable trust by avoiding any money transfers in the event he or she requires care in a skilled nursing facility.  When the irrevocable trust is not left intact, an individual’s assets can be rapidly depleted, due to the expensive cost of paying for a skilled nursing facility.  However, when left intact, the money in an irrevocable trust is considered an exempt asset, which then allows Medicaid to pay for the cost of care in the skilled nursing facility.

Any money held in a revocable trust, however, may be used to cover the cost of an assisted living facility, because a person would have maintained control over those assets during his or her lifetime.  For the purpose of Medicaid eligibility, a revocable trust does not provide asset protection, because the assets within the trust may be transferred, changed, or revoked. If a person has assets within a revocable trust, it is recommended that those assets be used to cover the cost of the assisted living facility.  In the event that a person does not have access to those funds, it is important to speak with an elder law attorney who can assist an elderly person in naming a trustworthy loved one as trustee of the revocable trust.

It is important for loved ones to be able to access the funds in a revocable trust.  For this reason, it is important to have the proper documentation in place in order to ensure that your assets are preserved in case of an emergency.

The experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help seniors and their families handle all aspects of New Jersey Medicaid planning. Our New Jersey Medicaid planning lawyers can answer your questions about planning for Medicaid, and assist you along the way. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our New Jersey Medicaid planning lawyers at (973) 256-0456.

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