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Trusts can protect assets from seizure by state

As our parents age, many Oklahoma residents consider the possibility that they may eventually require residential health care. Few of us are comfortable discussing the matter, especially well in advance of such a need. That, however, is exactly when the topic should be broached. Savvy families will take steps to ensure that loved ones will have the ability to access needed care, while also preserving the family's assets for the next generation(s). Within this process, trusts can be valuable tools.

Consider the example of a man who is soon to be homeless after spending the past six years caring for his elderly mother. Neither party forced the issue of estate planning, and that led to a situation in which the son was unprotected when the mother's health took a turn for the worse. When doctors determined that she required a higher standard of care, she was moved into a nursing home.

The son, who had been living in the family home for many years, was shocked to learn that he was being forced to vacate the property at the request of the state. Because the woman had not placed the property into a trust years earlier, the asset was eligible for seizure by the state. The home will eventually be sold to help cover the cost of the woman's care, leaving the son with nowhere to live and no chance to access an asset that should have remained within his family.  

The best way to protect against a similar scenario is to work with an estate planning attorney to create a plan for the distribution of assets. In some cases, simply gifting a property to loved ones is a good option. For others in Oklahoma, trusts are the best way to shelter assets such as the family home from seizure by the state, while also ensuring that loved ones have the ability to receive medical care when the time comes.

Source: wcpo.com, "Mom enters nursing home, son to become homeless", John Matarese, Oct. 27, 2015

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