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Norwood Estate Planning Lawyer > Blog > Estate Administration > What is Massachusetts Medicaid Estate Recovery? (And How You Can Protect Your Assets)

What is Massachusetts Medicaid Estate Recovery? (And How You Can Protect Your Assets)


Long-term care costs are extraordinarily high. For the most part, they are not covered by Medicare. Instead, Medicaid—a means-tested program—is the primary form of public support for nursing home care and other types of long-term care. In Massachusetts, the Medicaid program is called MassHealth.  The Commonwealth may actually try to “recover” funds paid for skilled care during a decedent’s lifefrom his or her probate estate. Here, our Norwood estate administration attorney provides a comprehensive overview of the most important things that you need to know about Massachusetts Medicaid Estate Recovery and the strategies that you can use to protect your assets.

Know the Law: Medicaid Recovery is Required for MassHealth

Here is the basic thing that you need to know: Massachusetts Medicaid Estate Recovery is a program that allows the state to recoup certain Medicaid expenses from the estates of deceased recipients. If a beneficiary received long-term care or related services through Medicaid, the state can seek reimbursement from the individual’s estate after death. In fact, this is required by law. As explained by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, federal and state law require the agency to “recover assets from the estates of certain MassHealth members after their death.”

An Overview of Strategies to Protect Assets from Medicaid Risks in Massachusetts 

Is Medicaid going to take funds out of your estate? The answer depends, in part, on the asset protection strategies that you have in place. Protecting assets from potential Medicaid recovery in Massachusetts requires prudent planning. The good news is that there are various strategies that people and families can implement to protect assets—and an experienced Massachusetts elder law attorney can help. Here is an overview of some of the most notable Medicaid asset protection strategies:

  • Irrevocable Trusts: One of the most prevalent strategies is placing assets into an irrevocable trust. Once assets are placed in this trust, they typically are not considered as owned by the individual and hence, are protected from Medicaid estate recovery. However, it is crucial to be aware of the five-year look-back period—the transfer must occur at least five years before applying for Medicaid
  • Life Estates: A life estate allows a person to transfer the ownership of their property to another person while retaining the right to live on the property for the rest of their life. It protects the home from estate recovery while letting them continue residing there.
  • Early Gifting: Gifting assets can reduce the estate’s value, potentially qualifying the individual for Medicaid. That being said, like irrevocable trusts, there is a five-year look-back period for gifts. A proactive approach is a must to make early gifting an effective strategy. 

Contact Our Massachusetts Medicaid Planning Attorney Today

At Fisher Law LLC, our Massachusetts elder law attorneys are  committed to helping people and families protect their assets. If you have any questions about Massachusetts Medicaid Estate Recovery, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us today to set up your confidential case review.  We provide estate planning services in Norwood, Boston, and throughout Massachusetts.



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