In 2002, a woman in Virginia transferred a portion of her life savings to her daughter for the specific purpose of protecting her assets in case she ever needed nursing home care. The daughter later filed for bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Trustee demanded that the daughter turn over all her assets to pay off her creditors. The daughter argued that she should not have to turn over the funds she received from her mother because she was really just holding the funds for the benefit of her mother.
In a 2013 Decision, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the case titled, In re Woodworth, ruled that the daughter clearly had complete ownership of the funds. According to the court, the mother could not have it both ways that she gave up ownership for purposes of Medicaid eligibility, but at the same time still owned it against her daughter’s creditors.
The Court held that the daughter must turn over all assets, including her mother’s life savings, to the Bankruptcy Trustee to pay the daughter’s creditors.
This case shows the risks of transferring assets to your children. A much better way to protect your assets is by transferring it to a specially designed irrevocable family trust. With a trust, you can protect your life savings without subjecting it to the problems of your children.
To get legal help related to Medicaid eligibility and transferring assets, contact us.