Rejecting an attorney’s assessment of a Medicaid applicant’s competence, a Connecticut appeals court holds that because the applicant’s estate did not prove he was incompetent and unable to withdraw funds from his revocable trust, the trust was an available asset and made him ineligible for Medicaid. Romanelli v. Department of Social Services (Conn. Super. Ct., No. HHB-CV-21-6066045, May 19, 2022).

In 2001, Antonio and Antoinetta Romanelli created a trust and placed two properties in it. They retained the right to revoke the trust and withdraw the property as long as both spouses were alive and competent. Each spouse could withdraw only their share. In 2019, Mr. Romanelli entered a nursing home and applied for Medicaid, but passed away while the decision was pending. The Medicaid agency determined that the trust was an available asset and Mr. Romanelli was not eligible for Medicaid until his assets were spent down.

Mr. Romanelli’s estate appealed, arguing that the trust was not revocable because Mr. Romanelli did not have the mental capacity to terminate the trust and remove his portion. His attorney submitted an affidavit attesting that Mr. Romanelli was not competent to conduct business. The hearing officer upheld the denial of Medicaid benefits, and the estate appealed to court.

The Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of New Britain, affirms the hearing officer’s denial of Medicaid benefits and dismisses the appeal. The court notes that Mr. Romanelli has the burden of proof regarding his eligibility for Medicaid and did not present sufficient evidence. According to the court, the attorney’s affidavit of Mr. Romanelli’s mental capacity is not proof of his incapacity because “the evidence was not impartial and one could, but was not required to, reasonably question whether an attorney had the necessary skill and qualification to make such an assessment on her own.”

Download the decision here.