Can a Medicaid lien be placed on joint assets?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 26, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can a Medicaid lien be placed on joint assets? My sister shares a house with my brother and I. A fire has displaced us from the home for over a year because we had to go through probate. Now we are in the process of getting a construction loan to rebuild and get back in our home which we consider our permanent residence. My sister has had several strokes and has had Medicaid before she was forty, but now she needs long-term care which would mean a nursing facility or home health waiver-type program. My question is will Medicaid now count this as an asset because we are not physically in the residence right now? We do consider it our home and are trying to get back there. Will they force us to sell instead of rebuilding? Will they be able to put a lien against it now or in the future? My brother is on dialysis, so could he also be considered disabled? Will that help? Will we be displaced because of a series of unfortunate events? We are temporarily renting an appartmentment near our home and seeking a construction loan so we can move back in.

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

This is a complex matter and Medicaid law does vary somewhat from state to state because it is a joint state-federal program so you should consult with an Elder Law lawyer in your area.

However, assuming that you, your sister and brother are all owners of the home and that the interest of you and your brother obtained your ownership interest at least a year before your sister would enter a nursing home, no recovery of funds expended for your sister's care through Medicaid can be had by the state while you or your brother reside in the home. The home should not be counted against your sister in applying for Medicaid. Her interest in the home may be subject to a lien, but that lien will not affect your ability to live in the home.