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Plan ahead for look-back period

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Q. My father gave my sister and me $300,000 to avoid losing it in nursing home costs. Can he qualify for Medicaid after three years? E.L., Lincoln City, OR

A. No. It is a common estate-planning technique to try to reduce the assets of a person in order to qualify for Medicaid assistance. But, for this purpose, gifts made by your father still count as assets he owns under the “look-back rule.”

Prior to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the look-back period for transfers to a trust was 60 months; it was only 36 months for other transfers. Now the look-back period is 60 months for all transfers regardless of whether a trust is involved.

Tip: In any event, it is difficult to meet state-imposed restrictions in this area. Consult with an estate-planning pro for more details.

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