Pros and Cons of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust
What Is a MAPT?
A MAPT is an irrevocable trust created during your lifetime. The primary goal of a MAPT is to transfer assets to it so that Medicaid will not count these assets toward your resource limit when determining whether you qualify for Medicaid benefits.
However, creating an irrevocable trust comes with a certain lack of control over the assets you transfer to this trust. Before making such a significant decision, consider some pros and cons to see if this long-term care strategy is right for you.
Benefits of Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
- You Can Still Benefit From the Assets of a MAPT
Although transfers of assets to a MAPT cause you to relinquish your ownership and control of them, the finality of the arrangement is not as harsh as it sounds.
In creating a MAPT, you select a person (trustee) who manages the trust assets for your benefit. So, if you transfer your home, you can still live there. In exchange for giving up control of your assets to a MAPT, your assets no longer count against you for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
- You Will Be Protecting Assets From Medicaid and Other Long-Term Care Creditors
Once your assets are in a MAPT and other criteria are met, Medicaid can’t seize them or ask you to spend them down to pay for your nursing home or long-term care costs. These assets also are not subject to Medicaid’s estate recovery program.
As a result, your heirs can benefit from the assets without the interference of Medicaid or liens it could otherwise file against your estate after you pass.
- You Can Choose Your Beneficiaries
A MAPT also functions as an estate planning tool. This is because you can designate who receives what remains of the trust upon your passing. The beneficiaries you choose will receive the assets per the terms of the trust agreement, and the chances of a probate court getting involved are diminished.
- Assets Are Protected From Your Beneficiaries’ Creditors
Even though you can designate a MAPT’s beneficiaries now, those beneficiaries do not have full access to the trust’s assets because of how it is structured. This also means their creditors do not have access to it. And, if your child is a beneficiary and is going through a messy divorce, neither does their spouse. You can also designate how bequests to beneficiaries can be used.
Drawbacks of MAPTS
- Timing Is Everything
For a MAPT to function as intended, it needs to be created in advance to avoid the Medicaid lookback period. In Maryland, this is five years for nursing home or institutional care.
If less than five years have elapsed since you created your MAPT, you may still be responsible for some or all of your long-term care costs until sufficient time has passed.
- Giving Up Control Is Non-Negotiable
A trust will not qualify as a MAPT if you retain control. You must accept that a person you select to act as trustee will manage the trust, distribute funds and income from the trust.
In addition, creating a MAPT but not transferring assets to it is ineffective. You need to fully commit to the concept for it to benefit you.
- Potential Effects on Care
It’s important to realize that while the MAPT strategy is designed to preserve assets and wealth, it assumes that a person will rely on Medicaid to pay for a portion of their care. However, Medicaid does not cover all facilities. For example, many assisted living facilities are not licensed as assisted living programs and only accept private pay residents. Thus, relying on Medicaid could affect the choice and quality of care a person may receive.
The pros and cons discussed above are not exhaustive, and there may be other ones that apply to your situation. Investing in a MAPT is a highly fact-specific process, and MAPTs are not suitable for everyone.
To learn more about estate planning and elder law, visit Estate and Elder Planning by David Wingate at www.davidwingate.com. For an Initial Consultation, call (301) 663-9230. We can assist you with powers of attorneys, living wills, wills, trusts, Medicaid planning, and asset protection. With office locations in Frederick, Washington, and Montgomery Counties, Maryland, we are here to provide you with peace of mind.
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