WHAT IS A LOOK-BACK PERIOD?Published On: Monday, December 11, 2017
A look-back period is the period of time in which a government agency will review gifts or transfers of assets when a person applies for Medicaid (and some other government benefits). Transfers made during the look-back period are often subject to being undone, or can generate a penalty period or disqualification of benefits.
Medicaid is designed to pay for an individual's long-term care expenses once their funds and assets are used. The government expects people to use their savings to pay for long term care, and once those assets are gone, then Medicaid will begin. This is why many people use long-term planning (including asset transfers and gifting to relatives) to protect at least some portion of their savings and assets, so that those assets can be used to help their spouse or children while still allowing them to qualify for Medicaid assistance for long term care expenses.
When you apply for Medicaid, any transfers of assets or gifts made within 60 months of the date of application are subject to penalties. Any gifts or transfers of assets made greater than 5 years of the date of application are not subject to penalties. This is why estate planning with Medicaid planning strategies should be considered well before the need for long term care arises.
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