I get this phone call fairly frequently: “Todd, we got Dad on Medicaid but we need to sell the house now. We didn’t realize we can’t rent it out and that we have to pay all of the expenses”.
This is a very common problem because people are told (and it’s true) that you can keep the house and still qualify for Medicaid.
What people are NOT told is that even though dad can own a house and still be on Medicaid, dad CAN’T pay for it with his money. This means that all income goes to the nursing home so there is no money to pay for the expenses of owning a home, such as insurance and taxes.
This is why people call me saying they can’t afford the house…and I get it.
Another problem people soon realize is that if the house is in the name of the person in the nursing home, it will result in the house going through Probate at their death and that can be a nasty, expensive, time-consuming deal.
To further compound the problems, Medicaid is one of the first creditors in line to be paid back for the expenses they paid for care for the owner of the home, who has likely been in the nursing home for years which results in quite a large bill.
The list of problems is long.
Yes, Dad can go on Medicaid and you get to “keep the house”. Everyone knows that!
1) Dad can’t pay for it while he is living and still on Medicaid
2) You can’t rent it because that is considered income to Dad and all income goes to the Nursing Home.
3) The family has to pay the expenses of the house while it sits empty.
4) The house will likely go through probate and
5) Medicaid can take a large amount of the sale proceeds, and possibly everything by way of a lien on the house for the amount of the expenses they paid for the care.
This is not good but it happens almost any time someone applies for Medicaid without the assistance of an attorney who knows how Medicaid works. (We know how Medicaid works!)
There are actually really good options even at the time of applying for Medicaid and possibly, there are some exemptions that apply that will allow us to give away the house without penalty.
There is the possibility that you can sell the house to a family member for much less than the market fair price.
One of the best options for protecting your estate is pre-planning.
This works particularly well if the person is not already in a nursing home and can make it a few more years before going in. It also works well if there are significant assets in the estate that can carry us through 5 years, allowing us to protect an expensive home.
The most effective pre-planning option is the Irrevocable Trust.
This is the best of both worlds relating to government benefits. This tool allows us to show the IRS that the parent STILL OWNS the house in order to get the tax advantages of owning a house until death. On the other hand, we can tell Medicaid that under their rules, the parents DON’T own the house. Pretty cool, huh?
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is getting people to realize that they need an attorney when getting into the issues of long term care.
Yes, attorneys cost money. However, how much is it worth to you and your family to protect likely one of the biggest assets you have worked and saved for your entire lifetime?
How much is it worth to avoid paying for the house out of your own pocket?
How much is it to avoid seeing the house go through probate (possibly 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of expense) only to see the house proceeds go to the State to pay for care and not to the family?
Please give us a call when you think it is time to put a loved one into an expensive long term care facility. Don’t take the advice of people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Let us explain to you how this works and give you options that you probably have never heard.