My mom transferred her home to me to protect herself since she keeps having strokes. She now wants the house back.


My mom became paralyzed from a inner brain stroke and she had transferred her home to me to protect her from any liens,etc at her request. She continues to have small strokes. I also had served as her Power of attorney and now she want the home returned back in her name.

No family member wants to care for her and this is the only place she will have to live out her last days. Because she had no where else to go I became her caretaker for the last 2 years without a salary. I need some insight.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.


Great expert advice! THANK you!

Since Mom's had some strokes/tias,
she may not be thinking clearly--very common--in fact, usual, after strokes, to have flawed reasoning.
Her [normal] fears of losing all her autonomy seem to be speaking, not reason/logic.

She made a good, rational, thought-out decision by transferring her home to you, and setting up Legal documents putting you in legal charge of her affairs.
THIS is EXACTLY what she was protecting herself and you by doing--preventing her post-stroke illogic/fear from losing what she worked hard to build over her life.
By transferring her home to you, she was protecting it for her family's sake.

I like the idea of making a document that simply guarantees her ability to stay in her home, regardless of title, until she cannot be in it any longer
---but not "until death", because none can make a promise like that
---she may need hospitalization for a time, prior to her death.
She may not fully understand that document, either--related to her stroke mentality.
Might also speak with her Doctor, to see if he will declare her unfit to handle business It kinda sounds like it, UNLESS she has other rational reasons for wanting to transfer it back.

I think everyone here has covered the topic well enough for you to make a decision. All good advice and the Expert advice can't be argued with.

Have you simply asked your Mother why she wants the title back?

Just curious.

As mentioned in the other comments, there is a "Caretaker Child" exception to the general rule that would otherwise cause a penalty period for uncompensated transfers (gifts) made within the five-year period before a person applies for Medicaid. To qualify for this Caretaker Child exception, the house must be transferred to a child who has cared for their parent for at least two full years immediately prior to the parent entering a nursing home, and who can prove that because of such care, the parent was able to delay going to the nursing home. You will need a physician's statement to back you up, plus proof you actually lived in the house with your mother for at least that two-year period. The address on the house showing your name should be on your tax returns, etc., since the state will want proof you actually lived there. Here is the statute that applies: 42 U.S.C. §1396p(c)(2)(A)(iv).

You didn't actually say that you live in the house with your mom. If so, then you may well qualify for this exception.

Why is this important? Again, as others have said, if your mother dies in a nursing home having been a Medicaid recipient, the state must by law file a claim against her estate. Since her only asset will be the home, it will either have to be sold to pay back the state its claim (for the dollar amount of nursing home expenses your mother incurred during her lifetime) or family members will have to pay the state, if they wish to keep the house.

Note that even if you don't qualify for the Caretaker Child exception, if your mother is able to wait to apply for Medicaid for five years from the date she signed the deed into your name, the transfer will also not count against her.

Unfortunately some of the opinions on here while well intended are incorrect. For example, "jodiclock" 's comment that only property that passes thru probate can be taken by medicaid is simply not correct. Many states now have the extended version of Medicaid recovery which is more aggressive in going after property once the Medicaid recipiant passes and this extended version includes joint property which was previously thought to be safe. New Jersey is one such state and my husband and we have consulted many Elderlaw attorneys on this subject since this affects us. As for "take" the property - obviously just a laymans term which means that if the property is eligible for Medicaid recovery, the state will lien the property after the person dies and in some cases force a sale. Take the property/lien the property - same thing?? Bottom line, nothing good can come from quit claiming the property back to your mother at this point and if you are still contemplating it, then consult at least 3 Elder Law attorneys before doing anything. Good luck!

Just say no.

Since even mini strokes affect the brain and thinking capabilities, part of what she is feeling is losing control over her life. Her home was hers, however, in more lucid moments she had the forethought to deed the house to you (you will get it when she dies anyway), and perhaps you can make a fake document that looks like the real thing. Since she doesn't sign anything, you can present her with the quit claim deed showing the house is back in her name (in reality it would have to be notarized and recorded in your county recorder's office). Give her something tangible to hold and the two of you can get on with life. Best wishes!

My understanding is that property can be transferred to a family member that has been a caregiver after a period of two years if addressed in a care agreement. Living trusts only protect the home from Medicaid if it is a irrevocable trust, if I understand correctly. Revocable trusts do not protect the home from being tapped by the government for Medicaid purposes. So it is in the family's best interest to keep the home in your name. And if she requires Medicaid assistance the 5 year look back will include transfer of the home. Since the transfer has already been done I hope that five years will pass before she needs Medicaid since it sounds as if there is not a care agreement in place.

The state doesn't "take the house". No state wants even more houses on the real estate market much less older homes of the elderly which likely are filled with old people stuff and probably have decades of delayed maintenance. What the state does want is any proceeds from the sale of the property the state is entitled to for reimbursement of Medicaid payments for the NH resident. This is done through MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery (or Recoup) Program (or Policy). When they apply for Medicaid an acknowledgement of MERP is in the stack of admissions papers. How MERP is done is very dependent on state law as recovery is done through probate.

For those who didn't plan years and years ahead, how your state does probate is critical to how much exposure you or your parent have within MERP. All states have exemptions (which MUST be filed for after death) to MERP: 2 year caregiver; handicapped child; family biz on property; family farm; family who live in the house would be on another gov't housing program if they house gets sold; all & every cost to maintaining empty home, etc. There are many exemptions. But again, you have to file for them.What seems to happen is the MERP program sends whoever is the assigned representative a letter stating that MERP is applicable and then requests that if you have an exemption, you HAVE TO FILE FOR IT to be reviewed by MERP. Some states have it set in state law that the baseline homestead exemption and below is not subject to MERP - MS has something like this and it's set @ about 75K. Other states seem to have policy that MERP doesn't to a recovery of a home under a set amount. MERP is a legal process and they (MERP) really have to determine whether or not to even proceed with the claim or lein against the house in the first place. The steps to do it against a 80K house is the same as a 380K house. I know where I'd spend my valuable time, but this is the gov't so maybe not.

Yes, you can place the property in a legal vehicle that removes it from probate - like a trust or move into an LLC or sell/transfer to family member. But you have to make sure that whatever you do will pass Medicaid review in your state. Some trusts only are viable in some states - like Lady Bird Trust. Some states view any trust not done past 5 years prior (aka "look-back") as reason to have the NH applicant ineligible for Medicaid payment. Other states don't. State law and regulations rule in all this. Imho, an experienced elder care attorney who practices in the county where the property is located is essential in all this

Whether your state does probate as a lein or a claim will make a big difference too.
If your state is a claim probate state, then claims have to be presented and filed. There has to be 3 notices in the paper on this. How your state does claims also makes a difference. For example, TX is a level of claim probate state. Items are paid by claim level starting with Class 1. MERP is a class 7 claim in TX, so the MERP recovery rates are much lower than in other states where it is an equal claim or a lein on the property. Credit cards are a class 8 claim - so good luck Capital One on that! MERP still happens in TX and TX has moved to a contractor (HMS) to do MERP, so recovery rates will likely increase as HMS seems to act as a debt collection agency. My point is your state law makes a big butt difference.

Planning ahead in all financial is ideal. But for most of us, the whole momma needs a nursing home is emergency incident related, when momma has a fall and can't realistically go back home to live on her own. Planning is just not done.

One thing to think about is if there isn't the time to do advance planning or changes that will work in your state, is to see if your parent has a will. If they don't, then they are considered to have died intestate. Some state, like TX, have law so that any and all properties of the intestate deceased are owned by the state. And the heirs have to prove and provide documentation for lineal heirship afterwards. For those that get stuck in this mire and still had a home or assets and were on Medicaid, in these types of states, the state can really be more aggressive in recovery as they are the placeholder of the assets.

Personally, I think as states are facing horrendous shortfalls, the rules on MERP will change and along with that the till-they-die exempt status on homes will change. For us in our 40"s, 50"s & 60's, it's not too early to plan.

I agree with Always. You need to talk to your mom and find out what is driving her to make that decision. Once she can be reassured that things will be okay, maybe she will calm down and leave the issue alone.
Obviously something has her worried about the house. You can continue to put her off and suffer her obsession on the matter, or you can try to find out why she feels this way and talk it out. Good luck!

All good advice. One thing missing: why does she want it back? Something is worrying or bothering her about having transferred the house out of her name into yours. You shouldn't transfer it back, for good reasons. But all the practical reality and reasonable explanations in the world won't settle her down if they don't speak to the part of her that's troubled about it. Her reasons may not have anything to do with practical reality, but a purely emotional reality such as "I'm homeless! When I was young I thought that owning a house was the key to security and now I don't any more!" Everybody has beliefs like that, that operate on us -- even without aging or senility or dementia. Listen until she's managed to express whatever it is. Then you don't have to agree or disagree, and you don't have to talk her out of whatever feeling it is (doesn't work anyway, on any of us) -- instead, just nod and reflect what she's saying. Like "Oh, I see. Owning a home felt secure." You don't have to change the house ownership but that part of her just needs to be HEARD.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.