What happens if a Medicaid applicant has funds in a bank account but cannot access those funds due to their medical condition? Are those funds still a countable resource? This issue was recently litigated in Indiana.
Samuel was admitted to the nursing home in 2019. A few months thereafter, he was diagnosed as “incapacitated by senile degeneration of the brain.” In February of 2020, Samuel’s representative applied for Medicaid benefits and was denied due to excess assets. Samuel twice appealed and the case was affirmed each time. And now we have this case out of the Court of Appeals of Indiana.
Samuel argued that he did not have actual access to the bank account that contained the funds because he was incapacitated. He was “physically and mentally unable to access, manage or control his own finances pending appointment of a legal guardian because of his medical condition” and so the funds in the bank account were inaccessible to him and should not have been counted in his Medicaid eligibility analysis. The court here concluded that he still had a legal right to the account and so it was an available asset. Samuel loses his case.
Having an incapacity plan in place for each client is important. Had Samuel had a Financial Power of Attorney in place, he would not have had to wait for a Guardian to be appointed to have access to those funds. The Agent under the Power of Attorney could have accessed the bank account funds and helped Samuel plan for Medicaid eligibility. Of course, with ElderDocx®, a practitioner can easily draft a Financial Power of Attorney for each client so clients can rest easy knowing someone can make financial decisions for them in the event they are no longer able to do so.
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