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Asset Exemptions for Funeral Expenses and Burial Trusts

Asset Exemptions for Funeral Expenses and Burial Trusts - UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Financial, Medicaid a.k.a. Medical Assistance a.k.a. Title 19, Wisconsin


Wisconsin’s Elderly, Blind, and Disabled (EBD) Medicaid program tests an applicant for both income and assets.

For individuals and advocates, calculating what exactly constitutes a countable asset can be difficult, given the Medicaid rules and exceptions to those rules.

One such asset exemption includes money an individual may have set aside for funeral expenses or a burial trust.

When determining if there is a limit on funeral expenses/burial trust assets that would be exempt for Medicaid eligibility, the first question to ask is whether the individual you are assisting is married.

If the answer is yes, begin in the Medicaid Handbook, Chapter 18.4: Spousal Impoverishment Assets. When counting the combined assets of an institutionalized person and his or her community spouse, you will add together all countable, available assets the couple owns. However, do not count assets designated for burial purposes. Any and all assets with such a designation are exempt. Any unreasonable amount should be supported by documentation or the burial-related costs or contract. For example, an applicant would not be able to say they are setting aside an unreasonable amount of cash, say, $1,000,000 as their burial fund for unspecified funeral expenses. If expenses they expect to incur can be documented, it is totally exempt regardless of its cost.

For non-institutionalized persons or institutionalized persons without a community spouse, the EBD Medicaid burial policies are different. This inquiry will take you to a different Medicaid Eligibility Handbook chapter: 16.5 Burial Assets. This section explains that while the funeral expenses for married individuals has no dollar amount limit, the burial asset limit for unmarried persons is $1,500.

For Example: Jim, a 70 years old man, is in a nursing home. He is interested in applying for EBD Medicaid, but he is afraid he and his wife have too many assets. While their savings accounts are rather small, Jim and his wife have $50,000 set aside for their burial fund for funeral expenses. When Jim applies for EBD Medicaid, he should consider asking a funeral home for an itemized listing of the goods and services they will provide to Jim and his wife upon their deaths. Jim will need to get this documentation only if the $50,000 asset amount appears “unreasonable” to the economic support worker processing Jim’s Medicaid application. If the asset amount seems reasonable, no documentation is required.


Expanding Burial Trust Exemptions

Health Watch Wisconsin Newsletter - 9/15/2011