In the first month of starting my Elder Law practice I attended a marketing function at a local nursing home. I was talking with a social worker and sipping coffee. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman approaching us who, I learned later, was our hostess for the meeting and director of the facility. She carried herself as if on a mission. The Director stepped in close and pointed her finger at me, declaring “I don’t like you. You help people hide assets.” Before I could respond that “nothing was further from the truth”, she disappeared into the crowd. The social worker and I were stunned.
In reality, the Medicaid application process is based on full disclosure and honesty in fact. Under the regulations, Medicaid can deny coverage permanently to an applicant who lies or hides assets. It is a crime to lie to Federal officials; just ask Martha Stewart. Please know that Medicaid has the capability to search all government, employer, and financial industry databases for assets and items of income. Also, Medicaid can require the applicant to produce five years of financial records. The Medicaid worker traces the flow of assets in and out of accounts very carefully. If you fail to declare assets or income, Medicaid will ultimately find out one way or another. Then the applicant is in trouble.
Elder Law attorneys understand it is only through full disclosure and transparent processes that the maximum amount of assets can be protected for Medicaid qualification purposes. It is to the advantage of the applicant to reveal assets rather than to hide them. We require honesty in fact from our clients; We fire clients who lie to us.