Berkshire Elder Law - Telephone: (413) 664-7700 - Fax: (413) 664-6335
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Saving your home and still being accepted to Medicaid

Jill was a good daughter. For a long time now,she has been the primary caretaker for her mother. Jill helps her mother by cooking, taking her mom to doctor appointments and otherwise assisting her with her day to day needs and tasks.

Three years ago Mom had a stroke and she could no longer care for herself. That's when Jill moved back home and took over Mom's care. She's been doing it for the past three years, but now it's gotten to the point where Mom needs more care than Jill can give.

Mom owns a $100,000 house and she'd like to give the house to Jill as a way of saying thank you for all that Jill has done for her. But when Mom and Jill check around, they're told that if they gift the house to Jill, Mom will be ineligible for Medicaid for years.

They come to tears. You calmly tell them that there's a provision in the Federal Law which is binding in Massachusetts. The law states that you can give a home to an adult child who resided in the home for at least two years, if the child provided care which
permitted Mom to stay at home, rather than in an institution or facility.

In other words, if a child moves back home and cares for a parent, and if that child's care has kept the parent out of a nursing home for at least two years, then the home may be given to the child without Medicaid penalties.

So how should Jill document her care for Mom? The best thing would be to keep a log or journal that sets forth specific incidents or events that, but for the child's care, might have resulted in Mom's institutionalization. For instance, note things like gas burners not being shut off, water left running in the tub, Mom's wandering or other medically dangerous actions.

In addition, it would be helpful to have statements from other family members or neighbors telling of any events or circumstances that reinforce
Jill's position. Finally, it would be most helpful to have a letter from a physician and/or visiting nurse or home
health care provider saying that Jill's care did in fact keep Mom out of the nursing home for at least two years.

You explain this to Jill and her Mom and they are both delighted that all of Jill's good deeds will not go unrewarded. The house may be given to Jill and Mom can still qualify for Medicaid.

FYI: There are other situations where the home may be transferred without penalty. They include transfers to the following persons:

  • the spouse;
  • a minor, blind or disabled child;
  • a sibling who has an equity interest in the home and who has resided there for at least one year before the Medicaid applicant became institutionalized.

If you or someone you know is facing any of these situations and have any questions, give me a call at (413)664-7700.


Created - 07/27/2009 | Last Updated - 05/24/2012
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