Transfer from Trust to Medicaid Applicant's Spouse Was Improper Transfer

In a case argued by ElderLawAnswers member Thom L. Cooper and an associate, an Ohio appeals court holds that the transfer of a house from a revocable trust to a Medicaid applicant and then from the Medicaid applicant to the applicant's spouse was an improper transfer because it increased the spouse's community spouse resource allowance. Atkinson v. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (Ohio Ct. App., 5th Dist., No. 13CA4, Sept. 27, 2013).

In 2000, Marcella Atkinson and her husband transferred their home into a revocable living trust. In April 2011, Mrs. Atkinson entered a nursing home and soon applied for Medicaid benefits. In August 2011, the home was removed from the trust and placed in Mrs. Atkinson's name. The next day, Mrs. Atkinson transferred the house to her husband. The state determined an improper transfer occurred and imposed a penalty period.

Mrs. Atkinson appealed, but the state affirmed the decision. Mrs. Atkinson passed away, and her estate appealed to court. After the trial court affirmed the state's decision, the estate appealed, arguing the transfer was of the residential home, so it was exempt from the presumption of improper transfer.

The Ohio Court of Appeals affirms, holding the penalty period was appropriate because the transfer was improper. According to the court, the transfer was improper because "the home was removed from resources available to the institutionalized spouse, and the community spouse received a larger CSRA (community spouse resource allowance) and more of the couple's assets." The court notes that if the house had remained in Mrs. Atkinson's name after the transfer from the trust, it would not have been an improper transfer.

Mrs. Atkinson’s estate was represented by ElderLawAnswers member Thom L. Cooper and Elizabeth Durnell of Cooper, Adel & Associates in Centerburg, Ohio.

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