Can we sell my aunt's home and give the money to Medicaid when she passes?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am POA for my aunt who is a nursing home and covered by medicaid. She has a home that is empty and racking up expenses as it sits idle. I want to sell it to stop the expenses. It is probable not worth what is already owed to medicaid. Can I sell it(she agrees with this)give the proceeds to Medicaid, hold the proceeds until she dies and then give them to Medicaid when they come after them or what?

Expert Answer

Sounds like selling the house and getting out from under its maintenance costs may be a good idea. Selling would get you out from under the obligation to maintain the house, and get your aunt out from under the obligation to pay for repairs, maintenance, property taxes, etc.

But once the house is sold, the proceeds become your aunt's cash assets, which are counted (as the house itself is not) when determining her eligibility for Medicaid nursing home coverage. In other words, owning the house does not disqualify her from Medicaid coverage (though Medicaid would put a lien on it when she dies), but having the value of the house in cash would disqualify her.

One way this might happen is that once the house is sold, your aunt would lose her Medicaid nursing home coverage and would have to use the cash from the house sale to pay the nursing home directly. Once that cash is used up, she would then again qualify for Medicaid coverage and would reapply.

But it's possible that Medicaid would be willing to handle this a different way, so that your aunt doesn't have to go through a reapplication for coverage. You should contact her Medicaid social worker (the nursing home may be able to help you with this), let the Medicaid worker know that you have the POA, and explain the situation. Then ask the Medicaid worker what the best way is to proceed in order to make the process as smooth as possible for your aunt.