Q: I moved in with my mom about 2 years back. We got my name on the home, so this is all done. My mom is in her late 80’s and I have two brothers on SSI. I know about the 5 year look back period. One of my brothers still wants our mom to help support him, I have explained to her I do not have an issue with this- however, I told her if she needed care from Medicaid, then what funds she give him, the money has to come from some place so I would have to pay it. I am not willing to support my brother. So, what do I need to do to prepare for the lawyer- just state what I have said here? (South Fayette Twp., PA)
A: Consult with an attorney versed in Medicaid regulations. It sounds like you are aware of the impact of Medicaid in that money paid to the brother could be considered gifts or transfers without consideration during the Medicaid look back period of 5 years and render your mother ineligible for Medicaid benefits to the extent of the value of the unauthorized transfers. An attorney may be able to utilize a caretaker contract between you and she to shelter some of her money and advise you on how you can utilize your move-in caretaker status to possibly shelter your mother’s home from Medicaid Estate Recovery.
Q: My grandmother made a deed to her property 3 years ago. She has lifetime stay. At her death her adult son has lifetime stay. At his death it goes to my 15-year-old son. My grandmother now has dementia in a nursing home. My uncle says he’s going to the court system to take my son’s name off so my uncle can be sole owner of property. He says he needs to do this to keep Medicaid from taking her assets for payment of her care in nursing home. Can he go to a judge and have this deed redone in his name only, taking my minor sons name off the deed with my signature as guardian?
A: I think is possible, assuming your uncle is acting in your grandmother’s best interest in dealing with Medicaid matters and not to benefit himself. However, much more information is needed. Assuming Medicaid is in the picture here, this transfer was done within the 5-year Medicaid look-back period. That could potentially penalize your grandmother to the extent of the fair market value of the house which was transferred. Additionally, there are two consecutive life-estates, from what you describe, one to grandmother then one to herself. In many states, a life estate has a monetary value. Of course, the uncle would need to possess some authority over your grandmother to do anything on her behalf, such as a Power of Attorney or her Guardian.
Q: She is elderly. We can’t qualify for needed services because of the house. I can’t afford to pay for a nurse or provider. I am barely making ends meet with medical bills and all the essentials needed to care for her.
A: The legal procedure to transfer title from her to you is easy. However, whether it is advisable with her circumstances is a decision that can only be made with advice of counsel. If there is any potential that she will need to apply for Medicaid, such a transfer can make her ineligible for Medicaid. Plus, if you have lived in the house as her caretaker for two years prior to her institutionalization, you may be able to remain in the home after her passing. Also, if you transfer the home into your name only and you do not reside there, her real estate taxes may increase. She will lose her homestead exclusion and possibly any senior citizen’s discounts.