NJ Court Ruling that NJ May Count Promissory Notes as Available Resources

One of the biggest questions in determining Medicaid eligibility for long term care is what are the person's "Available Assets" our "Countable Assets".  The Countable Assets must be spent down to $2000/$4000 for Medicaid eligibility (depending on the program being applied for).  A new case decided today says that New Jersey can look at certain promissory notes as being Countable Assets.

Elderlawanswers.com reports:

In a long-running case that has bounced back and forth between two federal courts, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rules that New Jersey's Medicaid agency may analyze promissory notes as trust-like devices and count the notes as available resources. Sable v. Velez (U.S. Ct. App., 3rd Cir., No. 10-4647, July 12, 2011).

A group of New Jersey residents lent money to close relatives in return for promissory notes. After the individuals applied for Medicaid, the state denied their applications, claiming that the promissory notes were trust-like instruments that qualified as available resources.

The residents filed suit in federal district court seeking to enjoin the state from counting the notes as available resources. The district court denied the request for preliminary injunction, holding that there was nothing in the Medicaid Act or the POMS that prevented the state from analyzing promissory notes as a trust-like device if the situation warranted it. The residents appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which vacated and remanded, holding the district court committed legal error when it analyzed the notes as trust-like devices without first determining whether they would be counted as resources under the regular resource-counting rules. The court agreed with the plaintiffs' argument, which was based on the federal statutory requirement that the Medicaid program may not use eligibility rules that are more restrictive than those used by the SSI program (see 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(10)(c)(i)(III)).

The district court again denied the preliminary injunction, holding that the relationship of the parties and the terms, amount and timing of the loans indicated that the loans were not bona fide cash loans or promissory notes. The residents appealed.

In a ruling that is "not precedential," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirms, holding that the Medicaid applicants are not entitled to a preliminary injunction because they "failed to show that it was more likely than not that their notes would be considered cash loans or promissory notes under the regular SSI resource-counting rules or that their notes should not be considered trust-like devices."

 For the full text of this decision, go to: http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/104647np.pdf

 

Excess Estate Expenses can be Windfall to Beneficiary

Who would have thought it, but the 1041 income tax return for an estate could make the beneficiaries money.  

Many times an estate may have deductions in excess of its income. An estate’s income would include any items of income earned by the estate from the time of the decedent’s death until the time that the estate is closed and a final income tax return is filed. These items of income are reflected on a United States Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts (IRS Form 1041).

An Executor must file an income tax return for an estate (i.e. IRS Form 1041) each tax year for the estate where it has gross income of $600 or more or as a beneficiary who is a non-resident alien. The return is due April 15, like a personal income tax return.

There may be situations where an estate does not have significant income, but has significant deductions. The Executor has a choice of deducting certain estate administration expenses or losses on either the estate tax return (Form 706), or the estate’s income tax return (Form 1041). In a situation where it is not a taxable estate (for example, all assets are passing to the spouse, and there is an unlimited marital deduction) it doesn’t necessarily make sense to reflect the estate administration expenses on the estate tax return; there is more value to the beneficiaries of the estate than having those expenses reflected on the estates income tax return (Form 1041). By being reflected on the return, these expenses and losses can (1) be used to shelter any income earned by the estate during the time that the estate is open, and (2) potentially flow to the beneficiaries upon the filing of a final estate income tax return, Form 1041, in the final year for filing the return.

You cannot claim the estate administration and other expenses of loses on both returns – if a deduction is claimed for income tax purposes on the 1041, the Executor must file a statement that no estate tax deduction for those items has been allowed and waive any right to take an estate tax deduction for them.

When the estate is concluded, the estate may file a final income tax return marked as “final.”

The instructions to the Schedule K-1 for Form 1041 identify how a beneficiary filing a Form 1040 should report their share of income and deductions. Section 11 reflects final year deductions proportionate to each beneficiary and how it these deductions can be reflected on the beneficiary’s personal 1040. The 1041 instructions specifically provide “if the estate or trust has for its final year deductions (excluding the charitable deduction and exemption) in excess of its gross income, the excess is allowed as an itemized deduction to the beneficiary succeeding to the property of the estate or trust.”

Note that these deductions will be subject to any limitations and be applied to the beneficiary because of his or her taxpayer profile. Even where an estate has no income, a 1041 should be properly filed each year in order to record the deductions and/or losses of the estate, which may, in the estate’s final year be passed along, on a pro rated manner to the beneficiaries estate for utilization in their personal tax returns.