Can Medicaid take your house, even a jointly-owned home, to pay for long-term care?

8 answers | Last updated: Nov 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can Medicaid take your house? My elderly dad and I jointly own a home. We have separate bank accounts and split the bills (one paying electric, the other paying gas, etc) . We each have Power of Attorney over the other. He couldn't afford his tong term care insurance premiums because they got to be nearly a third of his income. I'm permanently handicapped but so far I can still pay my long term care insurance premiums. Neither of us has any cash, savings, IRAs or pensions. If he should have to go into a nursing home under Medicaid, can they kick me out of the house and take half the proceeds? I checked into one nursing home and they said they take all but $20 of the person's income (SS) and I would have to pay all his other bills (credit card, life insurance, Medicare B, etc) and that Medicaid takes the house automatically. What can Medicaid take, and what's off limits? I am in Missouri and cannot afford a eldercare attorney. Thank you for helping.

Expert Answers

Your father's interest in the house won't count against him should he need to enter a nursing home, because a person's primary residence is exempt when Medicaid counts a person's assets in determining eligibility. Upon his death, however, if the house remains partly in his name, Medicaid may be able to make a claim against his 50% interest in the house. So, you should have him deed his interest to you at the earliest opportunity, which would remove the house from his estate. Because you are disabled, this gift should not count as a disqualifying transfer resulting in a delay in his Medicaid eligibility for nursing home coverage. And because you are living in the house, Medicaid will not attempt to "take" it.

Your father's Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance will be paid by Medicaid. But it is true that Medicaid will not allow your father's income to be used to pay those other non-Medicare bills, so you will have to decide if you want to continue to keep the life insurance in force by paying the premiums yourself. As to his debt to the credit card companies, you are not personally responsible for your father's debts. If you notify the creditors that your father is now in a nursing home, that Medicaid takes all his income, and that he has no assets, they may write off the debt and stop hassling about it. Or, your father could file for personal bankruptcy, but without any assets (if he transfers the house to you) and no income, there's nothing for the credit card companies to go after and so this is probably unnecessary.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

that helped me al lot thank you

Bill3760 answered...

thank you that helped me with some questions I have.

Orangeunsub answered...

I'm sorry for putting this here. I will repost in questions. Again, my apologies. I will leave it here, unless asked to remove it, cause who knows it may do something for someone?

Our attorney, rather my mom's even though I handled it and he supposedly did what we talked about. He was supposed to put the house into mine and my moms name. I just went and got a copy of the deed and it hasn't changes since the 60's.Mom Is supposedly in final stages of Alzheimer's, but I don't see it. Caregivers who are sons and family can have denial blinders on. Curious as to what I can do about that, but that wasn't my main reason for responding.

I am in a very similar position. I am on disability. My mom gets SSI and her pension, I just get my SSI disability. The scenario above, does that apply to every state? It is a federal program, but isn't it governed differently state by state? Another attorney here in NY had pretty much told me the same thing, that Medicaid will take her income, but the fact that I am disabled and living with her, I can stay here as long as I want. Is that correct? What about when mom passes? Does mom's pension get taken towards the nursing home too? I am so confused, as everyone tells you something else,even attorneys. I am my mom's sole caregiver and it is killing me mentally and physically. The reasons I was disabled before my mom became totally dependent on, well me.Even with my sister and grandchildren a mile away. No contact at all. I know this isn't the question area, but I finally got it out.

sorry and thanks

BS I know I forgot stuff, hard to believe huh?

The kingbird answered...

There are a couple of things here that you should know. I live in Ky. and things can be different there, but here is how it playedout here. My mom was in a nursing home for a little over a year before she passed away. Very soon after she passed, there was a social worker here to find out what I had done with her property (she had a nice little home next door to me)
First of all, I am totaly disabled and that is an exemption here in Ky. that keeps them from taking the home, even if I hadn't been living in it. I had sold the house just the week before the social worker came out. Then they wanted to know where I had put her assets. I had already dispursed the funds to all her creditors and mortgage owner, which wasn't enough to completely fill the bills.

Not married answered...

Thank you Mr. Matthews. Does it matter whether or not the elderly father and son/daughter own the home in Joint Tenancy verses Tenants in Common? I live in Wisconsin.

Danbjr answered...

As a follow-up, can a motor home, an RV, used as a primary and only residence, be considered an asset?

Frosted02 answered...

I have a question for anyone in Iowa. My mother went on medicaid in the early 90's she past in 2002. My father never took her name off of their home until about 5yrs ago. Now he is in a VA hospice home. When he dies will medicaid come in and take anything he has left? My sister and I were never told about this and would like to know. Thank You