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Medicaid Planning 101: What You Need to Know

by | Dec 15, 2017 | Estate Planning & Preservation

Medicaid is the joint state-federal program that pays for nursing home benefits. Since it is a joint program, the requirements vary from state to state, although the program itself is fairly uniform.

This summary reflects only Florida law, and is current as of December 2017.

General Requirements to Qualify for Medicaid

Allowable Assets

In general, the person seeking to qualify cannot have more than $2,000 of assets in his or her name ($3,000 combined limit if both spouses are seeking to qualify).

However, there are significant categories of assets that do not count against this limit, including:

  • Homestead
  • Vehicle
  • Up to $2,500 in a bank account specifically designated for burial expenses
  • Irrevocable funeral and burial contracts
  • Life insurance with face value of less than $2,500
  • IRAs paying out required minimum distribution
  • Certain annuities

If only one spouse in a marriage is applying for Medicaid, the spouse not seeking benefits (called the “community spouse, can have assets of up to $120,900 (excluding the above “non-countable assets). This is significant because there is no limit on transfers from one spouse to another.


  • $2,250 for the person seeking to qualify
  • Unlimited for community spouse
  • Income includes:
    • Social Security
    • Retirement pensions
    • VA pensions
    • Some annuity payments
    • IRA distributions
    • Rents received
    • Long term care payments (if paid to the individual)

Some Common Planning Techniques Used to Qualify for Medicaid

  • Maximization of home value
  • Personal services contract with child
  • Gifts between spouses
  • Buy a new car
  • Qualified income trust (to lessen income)
  • Purchase of a life estate
  • Irrevocable trusts (after 3 or 5 years)
  • Irrevocable funeral contracts
  • Burial account
  • Medicaid qualifying annuities

Medicaid Planning typically uses some or all of the above asset and income exemptions to qualify individuals who might not otherwise be eligible.

We can assist you with this planning. If you or a loved one could benefit from Medicaid Planning, please call our office at (904) 398-0900.


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