South Dakota Estate Planning - 14 Ways to Spend Down your Assets Prior to Applying for Medicaid


What if you know you will need to apply for Medicaid eventually, but you do not qualify now? There are options you have with proper legal guidance that may afford you and your loved ones a more comfortable lifestyle while helping you qualify for Medicaid at the same time. This process is sometimes referred to as the "Spend Down Process."

14 Ways To Spend Down Your Assets Prior To Applying For Medicaid

Update Your Estate Plan

Update your Healthcare & Property Powers of Attorney, Guardianship and Conservatorship Nominations, Will, Trust, Living Will, & Organ Donation Declaration.

Plan your Funeral

You can spend $5,400 max on an irrevocable prepaid contract and an unlimited amount on a “Burial Trust” (casket, grave lining, etc.). One plot per spouse is allowed as well.

Go to the Dentist

Medicaid ≠ Good Dental Coverage and dentures get stolen in the nursing home. Also, think about arranging to pay the bill up front.

Get an Eye Exam

Buy spare glasses, contact lenses, etc.

Check Your Feet, Skin, & Ears

Medicaid provides for the basics only. It is time to upgrade your hearing aids, wheelchair, voice adapter, ventilator, etc.

Transfer Assets to Child on SSI/SSDI

Transfer Home to A Sibling

You can transfer your home to a sibling that lived with you for past 12 months and has his or her name on the deed.

Transfer Home to a Caretaker Child

You can transfer your home to caretaker child that lived with you for at least 24 months prior.

Transfer Assets to Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) or Pooled Trust Account

Please note that this transfer is still subject to state payback provision.

Prepay for Legal Work for Medicaid Assistance

Do not fill out the application yourself and get denied.

Prepay for Personal Services

Set up a contract for care providers or someone who can run your errands, take you to doctor, visit you, etc.

Shop ‘Till You Drop!

Your budget on Title 19 is LIMITING. Make yourself comfortable and buy a new TV, VCR, DVD, tape/CD player, computer, prepaid cable/internet service, magazine/newspaper subscriptions, slippers, robes, clothing, lotions, Kleenex, Chapstick, toothpaste, etc. 

If you are married, you may also consider:

Home Improvements

Consider adding a new roof, siding, furnace, windows, carpet, kitchen, deck, etc. However, do not increase the value of your home over $560,000. 

Upgrade your Vehicle

Buy that Cadillac, Lincoln, or Trans Am!

No "Spend Down" strategy should be taken without first developing a detailed and well thought out plan with your attorney as the rules are complex and without guidance most people end up disqualifying themselves or their loved ones.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones