Should we remove Dad's name from these documents?

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 28, 2010
Renee dawn asked...

After 2 years of caregiving for my loving father at home, he was just recently placed in a nursing home. It has completely broken my heart as the youngest daughter and secondary care giver - my mother was the primary caregiver until her hospitalization in December. My mother has COPD, is severely anemic, and cannot care for Dad at home any longer.

It has put a lot of sadness in my mother's heart, as well as mine, and my other two siblings. My father has been in the nursing home since January 18, 2010, and to date he has only been without our company on two different days.

I hold the Power of Attorney over my father and my mother, and I have overwhelming feelings of guilt for putting my father in a nursing home. I, as well as my two older siblings, have spent the past six months alternating living with my parents at their home, all while trying to keep up on our own full time jobs and families. We just love him so much and are sad we could no longer care for him at home.

My Father was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and during that time had a series of mini strokes. We then found he has amyloidosis and suffers from dementia. The strokes left his physical body very weak and now he cannot walk on his own. After the strokes we were unable to take him back home. All of this happened so quickly we had very little time to prepare for what was ahead - that being nursing home placement and protecting my mother's assets.

My questions are these: My father has the primary vehicle still in his name (my mother's only means of transportation). The title to the house is also in his name as well as my mother's - although a quit claim deed has it entitled to us three surviving children, AND his name is still on the savings and checking account.

Should or could his name be removed from these documents? Is this legal to do after nursing home placement? Please help. I'm just trying to figure all this out so if my mother survives my father, I want to make sure she doesn't lose her assets. I completed all the paperwork for Medicaid and my father was approved. My mother's patient pay through Medicaid is quite a lot and she is now living on a very tight budget, I just don't want to see her lose any more. Thank you for your time and thank you for allowing me to vent my sadness and fears. I am so thankful I found this site. Thank you!

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.

Medicaid law differs significantly from state to state so it is important that you discuss this with an experienced Elder Law lawyer in your state. You have indicated that he has already been approved for Medicaid, but you want to make sure that you do not do anything that could cause a disqualification. I am not clear as to the title of the home although it sounds like what you have is a life estate whereby your parents have the right to live in the home during their lifetimes and then property then passes automatically to you and the other children at their deaths. If this is the case, you are fine leaving the home titled the way it is.