In some cases, clients transfer their homes into an Irrevocable Trust as part of a strategy to become eligible for Medicaid. In the past, if a client did this and reserved the right to still live in the home, Medicaid treated all of the trust assets as being available on the benefit application.
In May, 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided two important cases on this point, (Nadeau v. Director of the Office of Medicaid and Daley v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services). The Court ruled that reserving a right to use and occupancy the house or retaining a life estate when using an Irrevocable Trust, will not cause the trust assets to be available for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
This is good news for those who choose to use irrevocable trusts for this purpose. The Court also held that Federal Law is controlling is a state’s eligibility determination.
Please note that this has no effect on the more common revocable type of trusts, which are often used by families to avoid Probate Court.