Playing Keep Away: Exempt Assets

Efficient planning for Medicaid qualification often feels like a game of “keep away”. What is the State going to be able to keep, and what can a person keep safe? One of the most important ways to plan for Medicaid qualification is determining which assets, if any, are exempt from inclusion in a person’s assets, or in the assets that a spouse is able to retain. Many people don’t understand what can be retained, and what doesn’t count at all when making an application for Medicaid. The most commonly exempt assets for a single person are:

-$2,000.00 cash;

-pre-paid burial and funeral arrangements and;

-personal property (clothing, electronics, household items, etc.).

For the spouse not on Medicaid, in addition to the above items:

-homestead property (house and all contiguous land);

-one vehicle, and;

-all of the community spouse’s retirement accounts.

As with any and all topics involving Medicaid, there are several quirks, nuances and exceptions to consider. There are several other potentially exempt assets (as well as “unavailable” assets which is the subject of a different article) depending on each individual situation. For example, this article does not discuss the additional assets that the spouse is allowed to retain (which I do not consider “exempt” for these purposes.)

Planning ahead, and shifting of assets from non-exempt to exempt can be a great way to retain as many of your hard-earned assets as possible. Just as in a game of keep away, timing can be vitally important. Doing something too early, or too late, can result in you or your loved one losing the game.