Below, in chronological order, is the annual roundup of the top 10 elder law decisions across the nation for the past year, as measured by the number of “unique page views” of the summary of the decision received on the ElderLawAnswers website. ElderLawAnswers is a web-based resource available for those in the public seeking information on legal and financial issues relevant to aging and a network of more than 1,000 attorneys and law firms nationwide who practice elder law. Mr. Vanarelli is a founding member of ElderLawAnswers.

Trust Beneficiary Who Asked to Change Provision in Trust Regarding Successor Trustees Violated No-Contest Clause

Wyoming’s highest court rules that a trust beneficiary did not state a claim for legal malpractice against the attorney who drafted the trust and acted as trustee and that the beneficiary violated the trust’s no-contest clause by asking the court to remove a requirement regarding a successor corporate trustee. Gowdy v. Cook (Wyo., No. S-19-0005, Jan. 8, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

State Not Entitled to Recover Medicaid Benefits From Community Spouse’s Annuity

A Massachusetts trial court holds that the state is not entitled to recover Medicaid benefits from a community spouse’s annuity. Dermody v. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (Mass. Super. Ct., No. 1781CV02342, Jan. 16, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Medicaid Applicant’s Irrevocable Trust Is an Available Resource Because Trustee Had Discretion to Make Distributions

An Arkansas appeals court rules that a Medicaid applicant’s irrevocable trust is an available resource because the trustee had the discretion to make distributions for the applicant’s health and welfare. Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Hogan (Ark. Ct. App., No. CV-19-491, Feb. 19, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

State Decision Ignoring Appraised Value of Medicaid Applicant’s House When Imposing Penalty Period Is Reversed

A New Jersey appeals court reverses a final Medicaid agency decision that ignored an appraiser’s testimony about the actual value of an applicant’s house being less than the tax assessed value when it imposed a penalty period. J.B. v. Camden County Board of Social Services (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-5665-17T4, May 5, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Minn. High Court Rules That a Community Spouse’s Interest in Life Estate Is Countable When Determining the Asset Allowance

Reversing a lower court, Minnesota’s highest court holds that a state law excluding non-salable life estates from asset rules when determining a Medicaid applicant’s eligibility does not apply to assets held by a community spouse. In re Schmalz (Minn., No. A18-2156, June 23, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Annuity Payments Not Available to Medicaid Applicant Who Named His Wife as Payee

Reversing a lower court, an Indiana appeals holds that annuity payments are not available to a Medicaid applicant when determining his eligibility because he named his wife as the payee on the annuity contracts. Hotmer v. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (Ind. Ct. App., No. 9A-PL-2694, June 30, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Joint Tenants with Remainder Interest in Life Estate Cannot Force Sale of Property

A Massachusetts trial court holds that a couple who had a remainder interest in a property with a life estate cannot force the sale of property. McCarthy v. Bragdon (Mass. Land Court, No. MISC 20-000118, July 9, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Breach-of-Contract Suit Against Son for Father’s Nursing Home Debt Fails

An Ohio appeals court dismisses a nursing home’s breach-of-contract suit to recover a resident’s unpaid fees from his son who signed an admission agreement as his father’s attorney-in-fact. Village at the Greene v. Smith (Ohio Ct. App., 2d, No. 28762, August 14, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Trustee Has Authority to Sell Property in Trust to Pay for Settlor’s Long-Term Care Costs

Reversing a lower court, Wyoming’s highest court rules that a trustee has authority to sell property in the trust to pay for the settlor’s long-term care even though the trust provides that the property was to be placed in trust for the settlor’s daughter when the settlor died. Jackson v. Montoya (Wyo., No. 2020 WY 116, Sept. 4, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

Court Dismisses Fraud Claim Against Company That Provides Assistance to Medicaid Applicants

A U.S. district court dismisses fraud claims based on the unauthorized practice of law against a New Jersey company that provides assistance to Medicaid applicants, ruling that the estate of a nursing home resident did not provide evidence that the company misled the estate about performing legal work for it. The Estate of Cotton v. Senior Planning Services, LLC (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. N.J., No. 19-8921 (FLW), Nov. 30, 2020). To read the full summary and click through to the full text, click here.

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