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Stafford v. Idaho Dep’s of Health & Welfare (In re Stafford), 181 P.3d 456 (Id 2008)

Seeking to increase the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), the Staffords conveyed their home to a trust. After Mr. Stafford was institutionalized, the trust conveyed the home to Mrs. Stafford. The purpose of the transaction was to make the home countable during the resource assessment, thereby increasing the value of the marital assets; in Idaho the CSRA is one-half of the marital assets between a minimum and maximum allowance. After the assessment, the purpose of the re-conveyance to Mrs. Stafford was to essentially spend-down by having the home once again characterized as exempt. In affirming the decision below, the Court distinguished the resource assessment from the eligibility determination and found that the home was properly excluded as an asset at the time of the resource assessment because neither Mr. or Mrs. Stafford had the direct right to convert the home to cash under the terms of the trust instrument. The Department argued, and the Court agreed, that its rule counting trust assets as resources, generally, applied during the eligibility determination but not during the resource assessment. The distinguishing factor is the, during the eligibility determination, the trust rules apply for the purpose of enforcing penalties applicable to asset transfers. The penalty rules apply to Medicaid participants, but someone seeking a resource assessment prior to applying for Medicaid is not a participant within the meaning of the rules.

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