Q: I have a 96 year old Grandmother. I am last living relative. Recently removed from her home where she was living alone in bad conditions, 600 miles away from me. I now have established temp guardian and custodianship, permanent in 3 weeks, and getting her in nursing home. Her house is in a bad neighborhood and now that people know it is vacant, it will be robbed and badly vandalized by the time the court date arrives. House is in bad condition inside and city is about to condemn but I had 2 people come out and prepare cash offers. The house is full of my grandfather’s expensive tools, etc. I hate to see that all go to thieves or be taken by the city. Should I try to sell everything and give her the money? I don’t live here and paying $100 hotel every night, don’t have much time
A: I have had many clients facing this situation. If you feel you will need to apply for Medicaid funding for her in the near future you want to be careful with how you liquidated her assets. While it is true that the transfer of assets without fair consideration in the five years prior to Medicaid eligibility can lead to a penalty, the operative wording is “fair” consideration (fair price). My suggestion is to follow the advice of an attorney versed on PA’s administration of the Medicaid program. Generally, you can liquidate personal and real property as long as you do it for a fair price and keep accurate records-and keep her money for her, and not gift it to others. If you sell the house, get a few offers in writing, take photos and place the proceeds in grandmother’s account, for her use. Document the deposit. If you can get someone to appraise it before selling, do it. If you apply for Medicaid some day you may need to demonstrate to them that the sales price was fair. You can deduct the expenses from her account, but keep records and receipts. No one expects you to pay for all of this out of your own pocket. Reimburse yourself from grandmother’s account, but again, document everything including your hotel room, gasoline, movers, locksmiths, etc. As far as right now, you should remove the valuables from the house and secure the house by whatever means necessary-light timer, an alarm system, or even boarding it if you have to. In the meantime, gather the bids, and sell it. As long as you can feel confident you sold it for as much as you could get, given the bad area and condition of the house, Medicaid will probably understand, as long as you can document it. Again, find a local lawyer to advise on this before you start for some guidance. An attorney can advise you on any available financial tools to shelter some of her assets from Medicaid consideration.