Q&A: Don’t get creative with mom’s money

Dear Liz: My 91-year-old mother lost her mobile home (and everything else) in a fire. I was able to put her in assisted living and she is actually doing better than when she was by herself. There was insurance money, which is now in a joint account, but considering her age, we have decided not to buy another place. Is there something I should do with this money? Friends have told me I should invest it. Her new home will keep her whether she pays or is (eventually) on Medicaid.

Answer: You should talk to an elder law attorney before doing anything with the money. Typically, your mom wouldn’t be able to get on Medicaid until she spends virtually everything she has. If she tries to avoid spending her money by transferring it improperly, the transfer could delay her eligibility. You can get referrals from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.