Often, when an individual enters a nursing home, a determination is made regarding whether they will be a private pay patient or a Medicaid recipient while in the nursing home. One part of the Medicaid application process revolves around the Medicaid applicants assets.
An individual often owns exempt assets and countable resources. Common exempt assets include a home and one vehicle. Countable resources include most other assets, including bank accounts, stocks and bonds, non-home real estate, and LLC interests.
The question often comes up as to whether an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a countable resource.
The Louisiana Medicaid Eligibility Manual provides, in pertinent part, "Count funds in an IRA as a countable resource."
When people pre-plan for a future Long Term Care Medicaid eligibility, they often transfer title to their assets to either other individuals or to certain types of trusts. While it is fairly simple to transfer title of real estate, investment accounts, and most other assets, it is not possible to transfer ownership of an IRA to others or to a trust.
Some people consider taking a large distribution from their IRA, paying the taxes, and then protecting the after tax proceeds, but this often requires the IRA owner to pay a huge income tax bill and most people don't want to do that - I don't blame them.
We often tell people that while you are fortunate to have an IRA, you are kind of "stuck" with it for nursing home purposes.
But know that strategies exist to protect the funds in your traditional or Roth IRA, but most of those strategies require that you plan years in advance of entering a nursing home - so it's critical that you get armed with the possibilities and take sufficient action to protect those funds.
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Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450