MassHealth’s Proposed Changes to Pooled Trusts Highlighted in The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe recently published an article concerning MassHealth’s proposed regulatory ban for transfers of assets to pooled trusts for individuals over the age of 65. The article profiles a typical client who might use a pooled trust, an elderly and disabled gentleman with minimal savings who uses his trust funds to pay for the services of a companion caregiver.

The client is a nursing home resident. By using the pooled trust, he is able to pay for basic essentials and enjoy meals out at local restaurants. If the pooled trust is eliminated as an option for him, presumably he would then be forced to spend down the remaining funds in the trust on nursing home care—which would be depleted in a matter of months—or else be disqualified from receiving MassHealth long-term care benefits.

The article does not discuss an important component of pooled trust transfers: the state reimbursement requirement from pooled trust accounts. Under this requirement, if an individual dies with funds remaining in a pooled trust, these funds are used to reimburse the state up to the amount that the individual received for long-term care benefits. This requirement is an important feature of pooled trusts; testimony during the public hearing on the proposed regulations revealed that the state has been reimbursed several millions of dollars each year from the accounts of deceased beneficiaries of pooled trusts.

The pooled trust option is a win-win for both elderly and disabled nursing home residents and the state. Such residents are able to use funds in pooled trusts to pay for extra essentials during their lives, and the state is reimbursed from the remaining trust funds upon their deaths.

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About Lisa Neeley

Lisa is an attorney in the Firm's Trusts and Estates Group. She focuses her practice on elder law, estate, and special needs planning matters.   Lisa assists clients in the preparation and filing of complex MassHealth applications, from the planning and filing process through representation for any necessary appeals. In conjunction with her MassHealth expertise, Lisa has represented clients in appeal hearings regarding benefit eligibility issues before the Board of Hearings, Superior Court, and Massachusetts Appeals Court. In addition, Lisa has expertise in assisting elderly and disabled clients with the process of applying for community MassHealth benefits to enable them to remain in their homes while receiving care.    Lisa routinely assists clients of all ages with the preparation of estate and long-term care planning documents, including powers of attorney, health care proxies, wills, and trusts. She regularly appears in Probate Court to represent individuals and families in guardianship, conservatorship, and estate administration matters. Lisa frequently speaks to local senior centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and community groups on estate and long-term care planning topics. She is an active member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). In 2016, Lisa was a recipient of the John Ford litigation advocacy award by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) in recognition of her dedication and commitment to people as they age and for people with special needs.
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