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How are Jointly Held Assets Counted for Medicaid Purposes in Florida?

When someone it looking to apply for Medicaid for a loved one, one of the inevitable questions we get usually sounds something like this:

"I am a joint owner on my mother's bank accounts.  Are half of the accounts mine for Medicaid purposes?"

The short answer here is that it is only an asset if the other account owner contributed monies to the account(s).  The question here is rooted in ownership of the bank account. It is very common for an elder, rightly or wrongly, to add a child as co-owner of their bank accounts in the event they have a decline in health and need someone to pay their bills. 

For Medicaid purposes, a joint owner on a bank account is not considered a partial owner for Medicaid purposes. The law presumes that if the Medicaid applicant is on the financial account, they are a 100% owner. Of course, this is usually true as the account is usually the elder's asset and the child was added for convenience purposes. If, however, the child could show that some or all of the money was the Medicaid applicants, then the asset can be excluded. 

If the money is the elder's you cannot give it away in order to protect the funds.  Please see this page on the Medicaid Transfer Penalty. Of course, there are legal ways to protect assets in the event your elder is in the nursing home. We have a great deal more information on Medicaid spend down planning in Florida.

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D. Rep DeLoach III
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Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
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