Is it legal for me to take the payment from the sale a house I own jointly with my mother?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Hello, I have been my mother's caregiver for five years. I am an only child. We purchased a home together back in 1991 and my mother left the home when she retired in 1996 and never lived in it again (except to visit me). I have paid for everything on the home and done all of the maintenance for 15 years and it is considered my permanent residence. Now that I have moved out of state to care for my mother, I am considering selling the home. After the mortgage is paid off, there should be around $100,000 left over. My mother does not want a penny of this money since she has not contributed anything for over 15 years plus I have not had a salary for the five years I have cared for her and she feels I should have whatever is left over. My mother has no other assets and I am hoping to get her qualified for medicaid and into an assisted living in the next year or so, hopefully. It has become to much for me and I must get back to working and bringing in a salary once again. My question is, will it be okay to have the proceeds at closing to be written in a check only in my name even though she is on the mortgage with me? I am concerned medicaid will try to say she will not qualify because my house was sold at a profit and her name is on my mortgage. Thanks so much for your help.


Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

As an adult child who has lived with and provided care for your mother for at least 2 years, you are entitled to keep the house when she goes on Medicaid. You say that her name is on the mortgage. You do not say that her name is on the deed. I am assuming that it is. If her name is on both, you don't want to transfer the title too soon because the mortgage may become due. Around the time you are going to close on the house or at the closing, change the deed so only your name is on it. This way the check can be written to you only. If your mother's name is only on the mortgage and not on the deed, nothing needs to be done.