MassHealth argued the seniors retained rights to live in the home, previously conveyed to the irrevocable trust. Thus, MassHealth claimed the home was “available” to the applicants, and should be counted as an asset subject to a lien. The seniors, and many industry groups, argued using traditional trust and property law concepts. In the end, the court agreed that “availability” of a trust asset’s principal related strictly to the trustee’s ability to distribute trust principal. The concept related to ownership vs. use of a trust asset.
These seniors did the estate planning work. They obtained the trusts authorized by the MassHealth regulations. Unfortunately, these seniors had to fight the agency, all the way to the Commonwealth’s highest Court, just to prove they protected their homes. This victory, however, benefits all applicants who own their homes under an irrevocable trust.
Attorney James Haroutunian practices real-estate law, estate planning and probate at 630 Boston Road, Billerica. He gladly invites questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-671-0711. His website blog is found at www.hlawoffice.com. This column is published for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.