Question: My widowed mother is getting close to needing a nursing home. She has too much money to qualify for MassHealth. However, my name is on her accounts as a joint owner. Will this cut the total value of her assets in half?

Answer: The answer to this question is determined by the type of financial asset. According to MassHealth regulations, credit union or bank accounts and CDs are treated differently than investment brokerage accounts.

Bank accounts, such as checking, savings and CD accounts, will be 100% countable as your mother’s assets, regardless of the number of joint owners.

Investment brokerage accounts, holding stocks, bonds or mutual funds, will be proportionally counted – 50% attributable to your mother, in your case.

Readers preparing to transfer their parent’s individual bank accounts to jointly held brokerage accounts – be advised. The traditional five-year look back timeline applies to such transfers. If not made early, MassHealth will consider the transfer a disqualifying event. You will be required to cure the transfer by removing the names of the joint owners.

Priority Law is available to advise on elder law and estate planning.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.