Question: My mother is entering a nursing home and applying for MassHealth to pay the monthly cost. They say her assets must be under $2,000 to qualify.  She has one bank account containing $10,000 and one bond for $10,000. My name is on both assets with my mother. How are these treated?

Answer:  Sure, she can access the $20,000, but she may qualify right away. Let’s perform a calculation, like we are sitting in my office:

  • The regulations count 100% of her bank account, regardless of your joint ownership. However, investments, like her bond, are divided among the owners. Her countable share of the bond is 50%. This leaves $15,000 which can have value to your family.
  • A $1,500 bank account can be a set up in both of your names. Have the bank label this as a “burial account.” These funds can be used broadly, toward your mother’s burial or funeral costs in the future. Now, we are down to $13,500.
  • You can meet with a funeral home to prepay for an entire funeral contract. This cost will usually average $10,000 and is separate from the $1,500 account mentioned earlier. Now we are down to $3,500.
  • Finally, feel free to spend your mother’s funds to buy creature comfort items. (i.e.: a new wardrobe, new glasses, television set with wireless headphones for privacy). You may find yourself down to $2,000, the maximum allowable assets to qualify for MassHealth.

If you would benefit from an in-person or Zoom consultation about protecting parental assets, contact Priority Law.

Attorney James Haroutunian is the founder of Priority Law. The 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.