A Massachusetts trial court rules that a Medicaid applicant's irrevocable trust is an available asset because he retained the right to use and occupy the property that was placed in the trust. Nadeau v. Thorn (Mass. Super. Ct., No. 14-DV-02278C, Dec. 30, 2015).
In 2001, Lionel Nadeau and his wife created an irrevocable trust and transferred their house into the trust. The trust provided that the Nadeaus had the right to use and occupy the house, which they did until Mr. Nadeau entered a nursing home. In 2014, Mr. Nadeau applied for Medicaid benefits. The state considered the trust a countable asset and denied benefits.
Mr. Nadeau appealed. The state affirmed denial of benefits, ruling that the trust was an available asset because he was able to use the property in the trust during his lifetime. Mr. Nadeau appealed to court, arguing that his home could not be considered available unless the trust gave him a right to some sort of payment.
The Massachusetts Superior Court affirms, holding that the trust is an available asset. The court rules that while state regulations may require an asset in an irrevocable trust to be both available and payable, federal regulations in the form of Transmittal 64 provide that payment may include non-cash disbursements, including the right to use and occupy real property.
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