Can I Disclaim My Inheritance to Qualify for Medicaid in Florida?


Florida is home to a growing population of elderly people. With such a growth in this demographic there are bound to be issues that will come up. A popular one is Medicaid and the elder care programs that it provides. Because of the programs that Medicaid offers, many in Florida worry that having an inheritance may disqualify them from getting Medicaid in the state. Worry not, having an inheritance will not disqualify someone from obtaining Medicaid, but by the same token, one cannot disclaim an inheritance to qualify for Medicaid. Here is why. 

Can an inheritance be refused? 

An inheritance can be refused, however, for someone on Medicaid, refusing an inheritance is equivalent to giving assets away and will not help someone in their application for Medicaid or in maintaining their Medicaid benefits. In Florida, as in other states, it is important to understand what an inheritance means for Medicaid benefits and how to plan for such a case. Rather than refusing an inheritance because of Medicaid benefits it is always best to consult with an elder law lawyer who can guide what the best option is for taking the inheritance into account for Medicaid purposes. 

Will an inheritance affect my Medicaid benefits? 

Inheritances come in many shapes and sizes. Some are large lump sum payments, while others can be small monthly disbursements from trusts, it all depends on what kind of way the inheritance was structured. Regardless of the structure of the inheritance, once it has been received, the recipient must report such information to the Social Security Administration and Department of Children and Families within 10 days. 

After the inheritance has been reported there are two possible ways that it can affect Medicaid benefits. First, if the inheritance is quite large, then Medicaid benefits will be cut off as the assets provided by the inheritance will be able to sustain the recipient and Medicaid will no longer be needed. However, if the inheritance is small, then Medicaid benefits can be preserved. For Medicaid benefits to be maintained while receiving an inheritance the assets received from such an inheritance must be spent on items or services that benefit the Medicaid recipient, but must not be given away. 

How much in assets can you have to qualify for Medicaid in Florida? 

In Florida the asset threshold by which Medicaid benefits are determined is $2,000, in countable assets. However, should a Medicaid recipient have a monthly income less than $891, then the law will allow for that person to hold $5,000 in assets or $6,000 in the case of spouses. Now, when an inheritance increases the amount of countable assets beyond either of these two restrictions to maintain Medicaid benefits, the assets must be spent to further the care of the recipient. So long as the Medicaid recipient spends the inheritance assets gained, for care purposes, under the $2,000 threshold that is required by Medicaid, then the Medicaid benefits will be retained. To best understand how to coordinate such spending and planning in the case of an inheritance and its effects on Medicaid benefits speak with an elder law attorney as each case is different based on the benefits received and the type of inheritance that is gained. 

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Elizabeth Fernandez

Elizabeth Fernandez focuses her practice on Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Guardianship, Probate, and Advanced Directives. A native South Floridian, Elizabeth received her Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law, where she graduated with honors. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with honors from Florida International University. Elizabeth regularly presents on various legal topics for continuing legal education courses and speaking engagements. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and enjoys assisting families throughout the State of Florida with their personal succession goals.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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