Q: My aunt might need nursing home care. I have been giving care at her house. Will she lose her house? She is single and owns her home. I am her executor when she dies. My aunt is on Medicare and I have lived there for 5 years.
A: Receiving Medicare benefits will not result in a claim on her home. I will assume for the purposes of this question, you mean, will she lose her home to a Medicaid claim if she should enter a nursing home. You really need to talk this over with a local elder law or estate planning attorney versed in Medicaid law. Generally, Medicaid requires the value of all property owned by the applicant in the last 5 years to be considered in the look back period, relating to their potential claim. So, if your aunt applies for Medicaid assistance in the next five years, the house may be subject to a Medicaid claim if it is still in her name. There are exceptions to this claim that may allow you to shelter the home completely or at least a portion of its value. For example, if you have been her primary caretaker and living in the home for a period of two years prior to her admittance to a nursing care facility, you may qualify for an undue hardship exception under the PA Department of Public Welfare rules. An attorney may also be able to create a trust for you that shelters a portion of her estate. This is a gross simplification of the issue, so once again, please consult with an attorney.