Grandma owned savings bonds, and named Mom or one of the kids as the joint owner. In 2001, Grandma handed the bonds over to Mom for safekeeping. However, the bonds weren't cashed in until 2005. In addition, when the bonds were cashed in, the proceeds were deposited in a joint bank account in the names of Mom and Grandma.
When Grandma applied for Medicaid later in 2005, the gift of the bonds didn't "count" until they were actually liquidated (i.e., 2005, well within the look-back period), any money in the joint bank account was considered to belong to Grandma, and the Department of Health denied Grandma's application.
The motto of both Medicaid planning and estate tax planning should really be "you can't have it all." You can't have control of the money (i.e., have it be in your name) and also have the benefit of having given it away (i.e., have it not be in your name). Read further at Matter of Padulo v. Reed.
-Authored by Elizabeth Randisi, a Rochester, New York attorney associated with the law firm WeinsteinMurphy. Her practice focuses on Trusts and Estates and elder law.