Q: My Aunt is in a nursing home in Westmoreland County. She still owns her home in Allegheny County but will not be able to return there to live. Can we keep aside some of her money to pay for yearly taxes and homeowners insurance? If so, how many years can we keep back? (Churchill, PA)
A: If she has enough money to pay for the home and at the same time afford nursing care, she can keep the home. I think your concern is whether this home can be maintained if your aunt should run out of money to pay for nursing care and need to apply for Medicaid to continue in her nursing home setting. Generally, there are planning tactics to avoid Medicaid recovery against the home but doing this at the last moment and not years before is basically too late. If she will need to apply for Medicaid because she has insufficient funds to afford nursing care, the home will need to be sold. However, you should only do so under advice of an elder law attorney versed in Medicaid to determine how the proceeds should be spent down to save as much money as possible for your aunt. Without knowing more, I can offer this. If you want to preserve the home, and she can afford it, do so. Whatever you do, do not have her transfer it to family or friend as a gift as this will render her ineligible for Medicaid. If she must sell the home, sell if for fair market value and keep records of everything.