Assignment of Farm Rental Income Remained Available Asset For Medicaid Purposes.

The plaintiff transferred farmland to her son in 1988, reserving a life estate in the 266 acres which entitled her to the rental income of $5,332 annually from the property for her life.  In 1992, the son leased a portion of the farm (including some of the life estate property) to another farmer for $8,200 annual rent, with that rent amount going to the son.  The plaintiff had moved off of the farm by the time she applied for Medicaid in 2011.  The state (ND) Medicaid agency denied the application, claiming that she should be receiving a portion of the $8,200 annual rent.  Due to that, her countable assets exceeded the limit to qualify for Medicaid.  On appeal, the trial court affirmed the agency decision.  On further review, the appellate court affirmed.  While the plaintiff claimed that the rent amounted to an annual gift to the son, the court disagreed.  The court noted that if a gift was intended, the petitioner should have released the life estate and transferred title to the property to her son.  Bleick v. North Dakota Department of Human Services, 861 N.W.2d 138 (N.D. 2015).