Merrimack, NH estate planning clients

estate planning

…have questions regarding treatment of the primary home, trusts and jointly owned property in elder law/nursing home context.

Many of our estate planning clients have elderly family members who are confronted with the possibility of nursing home care. Questions regarding specific types of assets and Medicaid qualification are common.

In New Hampshire, any real estate, including the primary residence, is a counted for the Medicaid “spend down” to $2,500 if title to the real estate is held by a trust created after August 10, 1993 (the date the laws changed). Once removed from the revocable trust, a principal residence once again is considered exempt. The laws also impose a limit on an applicant for Medicaid’s equity interest in a primary residence, referred to as “substantial home equity”. In New Hampshire, that equity limit is $536,000. However, the home equity limitation rule will not apply if the individual’s spouse, or minor or disabled child, resides in the home.

For jointly owned accounts established after November 1, 1995 (another date when laws were changed), the Medicaid rules provided that all jointly held personal property (bank accounts, etc.) is presumed to belong entirely to the applicant for Medicaid. Evidence can be provided to rebut this presumption, but the applicant carries the burden of proof.

It is therefore important to discover the date joint ownership was established, and to verify that the chain of joint ownership was never broken.

In some circumstances, funds held in revocable and irrevocable trusts may be considered countable resources to an applicant, and distributions from such trusts may be considered income to the applicant. The treatment of trusts may differ depending upon the date the trust was created, with August 11, 1993 the key date. Trusts created prior to that date are treated according to the “Medicaid Qualifying Trust” provisions.

Estate planning for our elders or others confronted with nursing home care in the Medicaid context is a complex subject. However, there are pre planning opportunities that can be used in appropriate circumstances. If you or a loved one has questions or concerns regarding these issues please contact Attorney John S. Polgrean at (603) 883-0797 or

John S. Polgrean

This blog is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion.