Can grandmother give money away after she is in a nursing home?

Q: How much can an independent senior (84 years old) gift money without getting penalized if admitted to a nursing home shortly after? How much money can be gifted to children each without penalization? How much money may be gifted to grandchildren?

A: The Federal Gift Tax Exclusion allows you to give $14,000 in cash or other assets each year to each of as many individuals as you want without dipping into the basic exclusion. However, if grandmother may need to apply for Medicaid funding in order to afford her nursing care in the next five years, these gifts may not be advisable. Medicaid eligibility rules have a five year look back on all such gifts or transfers made without consideration. Therefore, any gift made in the previous five (5) years of the Medicaid application and eligibility, can result in her being ineligible, or her being excluded from funding to the extent of the dollar amount of monetary gifts made without consideration. If you believe that Medicaid may be in her future, it would be wise to have grandmother consult with a lawyer versed in Medicaid law, now. There are ways of excluding some of her estate from a Medicaid claim. There are exclusions and exceptions, trusts can be created and there are allowable purchases that can be made in the Medicaid spend down process.