Q: My spouse and I have lived on family land that is owned by my parents for 26 plus years. We pay our own property tax however it is on family land that has never been deeded over to us. We were told 26 years ago that the land would be divided between us siblings. My family is the only one who lives on the land. My dad is now disabled and uses a walker and my mom is not able to take care of him and is in very bad health. He is looking at going into the nursing home. We are worried about what will happen to us since we live on the land that isn’t deeded to us. Do we have any rights after living here for so long? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The only way for you and your husband to get ownership of this property is to have your parents deed it to you now, or pass it to you through their wills. With either method, they need to be competent to do so. If they are presently competent, they should do this now before their health declines, if it is what they want to do. However, this decision must be made with full knowledge of Medicaid implications. If either parent should need to apply for Medicaid funding all transfers of property within the preceding five years are scrutinized. If property is gifted or sold for less than market value (gifts to family) it could subject them to a Medicaid penalty. Therefore, only do this type of estate planning under the advice of an attorney versed in Medicaid regulations.