Irrevocable Trust Is Available Asset Because Medicaid Applicant Had Right to Use Trust Asset

A Massachusetts trial court rules that a Medicaid applicant's irrevocable trust is an available asset because the applicant still had a right to live in, use, and get income from the condominium owned by the trust. Daley v. Sudders (Mass. Super. Ct., No. 15–CV–0188–D, Dec. 24, 2015).

James and Mary Daley created an irrevocable trust. They conveyed their interest in their condominium to the trust, but retained a life estate in the property. Seven years later, Mr. Daley was admitted to a nursing home and applied for MassHealth (Medicaid) benefits. The state denied him benefits after determining that the trust was an available asset.

Mr. Daley appealed, but after a hearing the state ruled that the trust was an available asset because the Daleys had the right to occupy and use the condo and the trust granted them the right to convert the trust's principal into income. Mr. Daley died during the appeal, and his estate appealed to court.

The Massachusetts Superior Court affirms, holding that the trust is an available asset. The court rules that the main trust asset -- the condominium -- was available to the Daleys because they retained life estates under the deed and continued to use and live in the condo after establishing the trust. In addition, the court holds that the trust is an available asset because the Daleys had the right to income from the condo. 

For the full text of this decision, click here.

For commentary on the decision by Harry S. Margolis in his blog, click here.

Did you know that the ElderLawAnswers database now contains summaries of more than 2,000 fully searchable elder law decisions dating back to 1993?  To search the database, click here.