If mom enters a nursing home, can I keep her house?

Q. When my elderly mother enters a nursing home, can I keep her house? I am her 24/7 caregiver and have no home otherwise. I have household expenses, upkeep and taxes. The deed is in her name. I don’t know what other details are required here. I have lived here and been her caregiver for 12 years.

A. Make sure she has a Last Will and Testament in place in which the house is left to you, assuming that is her wish. If there are no other children and she has no surviving spouse, you can inherit the house even without a will. However, it is best for her to have one. If she runs out of cash to afford nursing home care, you may have to apply for Medicaid/DPW for her. They may claim an interest in the home but as a surviving child/caretaker living in the home, they will not throw you out of it. When she dies, DPW can go after the deceased person’s property under the Medicaid Recovery Act. However, since you were her caretaker for 2 years prior to DPW eligibility, you can file an undue hardship petition and probably keep the house. I would see a lawyer versed in Medicaid law to review your mother’s specific situation.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.