Can I continue to live in my dad's house after he moves to a nursing home?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad added my name on the deed just last month ago and we are living in this house. My dad is on medicaid and medicare and he will go to a nursing home soon for a long term care or for whole lifetime care. Can I continue to live in the house? It is been 10 years that I have taken care of my dad.

Expert Answer

Medicaid cannot force you to sell the house. However, if you and your father are co-owners of the house, once your father is in a nursing home and Medicaid is paying for it, Medicaid can place a lien on your father's interest in the property. This lien would allow Medicaid to collect out of your father's interest in the property, up to the entire amount Medicaid spends on his nursing home care. However, Medicaid may not take any steps to collect on the lien as long as your father is alive.

A special Medicaid rule might provide even more protection for you. This rule might allow your father to transfer title of the home to you and place the home outside Medicaid's right to recover costs. The rule requires that an adult child has lived in the home with the parent, and cared for the parent, for at least two years prior to the parent's entry into the nursing home, and that the adult child's care allow the parent to remain at home during that time instead of entering a nursing home. If so, the home is fully protected from any Medicaid claim for reimbursement of nursing home costs. You have been living with your father and caring for him for 10 years. If you can show that for the past two years your caring for him kept him out of a nursing home, you might qualify under this rule.

In order to take full advantage of this rule, however, your father may need to transfer full title of the property to you alone. Also, you may need evidence that you have lived in the home with your father, and that your caring for him kept him out of a nursing home. This might include a declaration under oath by your father, stating that you have lived with and cared for him in the house, and that he wouldn't have been able to care for himself. It could also include a statement from your father's primary doctor, confirming that your father could not have lived in the house without you caring for him. Similar supporting statements from family members, neighbors and friends might also prove useful.

To find out the specifics of this rule in the state where you live, and the documentation you would need in order to take advantage of this rule, contact a Medicaid office near you. To find a nearby office, use any online search engine and enter "Medicaid" and the name of your state. This will take you to the official web site of your state's Medicaid program, which will give you contact information for your local office. Or, go to the web site and click on the name of your state. You can also call the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 800-677-1116 and ask for the number of the Medicaid office nearest you.