I want to buy my parent's house, then rent it back to them.

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I want to protect the house from being sold to cover nursing care cost. I know I will have to one the house for 5 years.


Yes, your right in that if your parents need to go into a NH and they qualify both medically and financially for Medicaid to pay for needing NH care that there is a 5 year look back on all their assets. Base on today, it would mean July, 2017.

That's a pretty long period of time and a lot can happen in 5 years. If your parents are on the younger and healthy side - like they are more active retirees then 5 years is nothing and they could likely transfer the property to you for $ 1.00 or other nominal sum and pay you rent from their retirement income with a true lease done and when they eventually need a NH after 2017, the property transfer will be out of the 5 year Medicaid look back period. Personally, if you want the house and have long term plans to live there later on, and parents are "youngish" this makes sense especially if you like taking the risk that no Medicaid for 5 years.

But if say they are in their late 80's or early 90's and NH is looming large, then there are a number of things to consider as to Transfer/Sale of Parents Home: some things you want to keep in mind...

Financial status on home –mortgage or owned outright? If mortgage, it likely has a “due on transfer” clause. That means the old mortgage HAS TO BE paid off in full in order to transfer ownership. If it’s not being paid off and mortgage is being transferred to you, the lender can require you to qualify for the remainder of the mortgage, the house appraised & other standard real estate items. If your credit history is sketchy, it could pose all kinds of problems with the mortgage holder. If house is owned outright, none of these items apply. But make sure there are NO leins so you can get a clear title.

Capital gains – if it’s gifted then you have the house on the same tax basis that your parents had. But when you go to sell it, you (and not your parents) will have to pay the capital gain on the difference between what the house was originally sold for and what you sell it for. If the house was bought a long time ago like 1950’s/60’s, could be a big $$. Now you can homestead the property before you sell it and avoid capital gains. I think it’s 3 out of 5 years homesteaded to do this but you cannot have another homestead anywhere. For a lot of seniors who bought their house in the 50's/60's, they have had huge property value increases and it is reflected in their annual tax assessor's report BUT because their taxes are frozen don't notice it or care, so house bought for 25K in 1965 is now 350K.

Taxes - house likely has a 65+ special exemptions. This can be a lot, so house has a super low property tax rate. Especially if parents have owned the house forever. So when you “own” it the taxes increase. Most tax assessor info is on line, so you can see what her house is vs. others who don’t have the 65+ homestead exemptions. Could be scary huge butt difference.

Medicaid – If the house is gifted and sometime in the next 5 years, mom or dad needs to go into a NH and cannot afford private pay, then when one applies for Medicaid, there can be a “transfer penalty” imposed by the state on paying for care. Each state’s penalty % is different as its dependent on the state’s NH reimbursement rate. For Texas it's about $ 148.00 a day as TX rate is low. Say the state is 5K a mo NH average and house value was 100K, then it’s 20 mos that you will have to private pay. If you’re doing it 2012, then until 2017, the transfer penalty applies. Now if you buy the house for a valid full appraised value, then there is no transfer penalty but your parents have to be able to show that ALL the $ from the sale was used for their needs or their care and none gifted to others for 5 years from the act of sale. Now they will be "renting" from you so you get in essence the money back but over a long long period of time.

Federal taxes – Anyone can gift a person or entity 13K a year exempt from federal taxes. If you are married, that means 26K of the property is tax free. BUT the rest is taxed. If house is 100K then 74K is taxed. Now a parent can gift more than that (up to 5M) but has to file IRS 709.

My point is there are details that have to be done at the time of the sale in order not to have it bite you or your parents on the butt later on. I would get all their paperwork together to see what their overall financial situation is and then go and see an elder care attorney to evaluate what options your folks have for how their state administers Medicaid and how estate/probate laws are.

My mom is in a NH now for a couple of years. She still has her home and it is an exempt asset under Medicaid. I and another family member pay for all related to the empty house and upon her death will file a claim against her estate for all expenditures on the house, which will be paid as a Class 2 claim and before Medicaid estate recovery which is class 7 claim. For us, this works as her home will be a most difficult sale especially in the current real estate market. Her attorney & I went over different possibilities & this really was the best plan for us
Wow. I would like to know how homesteading protects one from capital gains? I had my home homesteaded in 78. Wow. Yes, do check into all the issues mentioned above. However, I think capital gains would be charged to your parents, the seller, and not you. Also in some CA counties you can take your taxes with you. For example my taxes are 1k a year. If i go to a new property I can take the 1k with me and that is what my new property taxes would be.
It's my understanding that when dealing with inherited property and capital gains the FMV - fair market value of the property on death is what counts. This can be good or bad really depending on your situation and what state you reside in. You can carry your taxes with you at the same rate in CA? - how does that work when the property value differs?

I was executrix for 2 estates - 1 very involved and the other easy- and one thing that kept coming up was the huge change in property valuation and how to best deal with it. For parents who bought their home or other property for 20K to 50K when they got married say in the 1950's or 60's there likely has been a huge butt increase in value easily over 100K and maybe over 500K. Now by & large the parents taxes are frozen so they don't care about the increase and sometimes are even excited when they get the annual tax assessor bill because the house is "worth" so much but their still paying 2K in tax while the neighbors are paying 8K. In reality the house likely isn't "worth" the assessor's report because: 1.the current assessment was increased in the go-go real estate years from 2002 - 2007 and they have not had the assessment lowered to reflect the current real estate situation and/or 2. it has decades of delayed maintenance or hasn't been renovated etc because it's still basically an old 1950's tired house but the assessment is based on comps which likely are renovated homes. Then they die and the FMV at death is the increased assessor value and the inheritor faces a capital gain. With my aunt in her will, she left properties to a nephew who lives in an state that has BOTH inheritance and estate taxes (nothing but fun there) so between the inflated assessed FMV and capital gains, he decided to decline the property. I had an estate/probate attorney I worked with as executrix and he got a tax attorney to do a consult on the whole property issues involved (he did an alternative value date rather than FMV) - I will say capital gains are super sticky to deal with and tax laws change and into it is well worth getting good legal that knows the specifics in how your state works.

One thing I did with my mom's house years ago, was to ask the assessor for a hearing on the house's value. For decades it stayed relatively flat, then in the early 2000's it skyrocketed as did property everywhere. I took in photos of settlement damage, etc and repair estimates and had roughly 50K taken off. Which now in retrospect was really a good move as it decreases the amount that Medicaid's MERP program can base recovery on after her death (my mom is in a NH on Medicaid but still has her home) as the assessed value is lower.
Oh I forgot, there is the "ownership and use test" for capital gains. Which usually means did you get a valid homestead exemption or claim the property as your principal residence for either 2 or 3 years before the sale. IRS has lots of info on this but it makes my eyes glaze over to understand and you eventually need an attorney to deal with it.
Igloo, thanks for sharing your wealth of experience-always so much to consider as a caregiver. I am a fan of elder atty's., too.
Wow. I would like to know how homesteading protects one from capital gains? I had my home homesteaded in 78. Wow. Yes, do check into all the issues mentioned above. However, I think capital gains would be charged to your parents, the seller, and not you. Also in some CA counties you can take your taxes with you. For example my taxes are 1k a year. If i go to a new property I can take the 1k with me and that is what my new property taxes would be.

SAVE THE FARM concern: Man, Oh man, I feel lucky to have typed in, "can I buy my parent's home on owner contract, to protect from NH future". finding Aging Care.com. While I did not exactly see that question/answer, I think it must be no, regarding Medicaid's 5 year look back. Much like gifting. And renting back to your parents. One part that Igloo572 mentioned about leaving the house empty. I wasn't clear on that. Here is my thing: we are presently getting my dad qualified for DSHS as dementia rapidly arrives. We are doing a quick claim deed to my mom. Mom is healthier but 81. They own their home. 6 acres. I own my home on the other end but not the land. I farm the land here in NW Washington. Of course my fear is mom goes for NH care and forced to sell farm, losing my home and living, too. But as single woman farmer, I cannot convince a bank to let me buy all. Don't make enough. So, just looking for any possible hidden ideas to SAVE THE FARM. We grow healthy produce to feed the hungry. Pretty cool. But when it comes to parents, land, long-term care, farming doesn't matter. I welcome any information you care to share. THANK YOU!
“Working” Farms and ranches in my understanding are exempt from asset list and from estate recovery for Medicaid. Size doesn’t matter. For TX, ranches can be huge, like dozens of sections, thousands of acres as you need more land for cattle to graze on than other places. 

SingingFarmer, you’ve posted onto an old thread.... 6 years old. You may want to do your ? As a brand new post. My post from 6 yrs back on capital gains & inherited is murky..... my understanding is sales price less inherited value & cost of sale = capital gains

..? for you, your post reads that your dad QCD the house & farm that mom & he have owned to instead become via the QCD just owned by your mom? You might want to clearly check with an elder law atty & one with real estate experience as to if this could be or is a problem as it could look like dad “gifted” his share of the ownership to her. Really (& you’ll read this over & over on this site) when it comes to Medicaid for couples it is way way more complex that doing an application for a widow or widower solo parent. Really not a DIY. Your folks need to meet with an experienced elder law atty, I’d suggest one that is CELA or NAELA.
Thank you.
You need to consult an elder care/medicaid attorney. But the way I as a clueless person understands it, the lookback period is for qualification and not recovery. So look into placing your mom's house into a trust. Once in a trust, it will no longer be subject to recovery when she dies since it's no longer her property, it's the trust's property.

As for the lookback period for qualification, her residence is exempt thus it shouldn't be disqualifying.

Thus putting it into a trust should protect it from recovery and not effect qualification as I understand it. But please see an elder law/medicaid attorney.

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