My mother is in the hospital suffering from dementia. My brother had her sign over her house to him for a dollar. Is this fraud?

her SS and MA. State health is footing the bill for the nursing home, I believe my brother had her sign this so he wouldnt lose 1/2 of her estate from the nursing home costs, the other was to be left to me. She is still living however my brother passed last month leaving everything not to his wife, or me But to his 32 year old son. Fraud?

Answers 1 to 10 of 12
If Mom has been diagnosed with dementia, I would think she is not 'of sound mind' to enter into a binding contractual obligation. I would get my facts together noting dates and occurences, a copy of the Will, any POA's, etc, and make an appt with an attorney in the county where your Mom's property is located. This initial appointment should not be very pricey (especially if you go in with ALL the paperwork prepared for your meeting), and you will find out if you have any legal claims and what the cost will be to proceed.
My brother tried that too, but there were four of us and we forced him to put all four names on the deed. At that time mom did not have dementia. The dememtia throws a monkey wrench in the whole thing. He couldn't do that legally. I would fight it. Why should HIS son get the house? Do you have kids? Why not them? Why not you? No he pull a fast one and if his son won't see this and do the right thing, then get a lawyer.
Top Answer
What your brother did was most likely not legal. She is a resident of a nursing home and is paid by the state. So everything she gives away (and one dollar for the house is give away) is subject to take back. The state will be looking for gifts she has given during her stay in the nursing home. Just because she sold the hosue for $1 does not mean it is valued at $1. Your nephew will have to either pay the value of the home or sell it. Believe me, if your brother could do this, everyone would.
Also, just to make sure, she did this when she was in the nursing home? Or was this done after a 3 to 5 year look back previous to going into the nursing home?
And they will look back 3 to 5 years to see what got transfered out of her name. My brothers and I put my mom's house in all four names 10 yrs ago so I think it will be safe. But even if he did it 6 yrs ago, if she was already diagnosed with dementia...I doubt if it was legal. Who signed for her? Did she know what she was signing? Did this brother have POA? Even with POA I don't think you can do things like that to benefit yourself. Honey, I'd check into all that.
The first critical thing is when did the "$ 1.00 sale" happen and when did she get on Medicaid. If it was more than 5 years before she went on Medicaid then it is not subject to Medicaid recoup. Doesn't make your family happiness better but the state doesn't care.

If it was less than 5 years then whomever signed her into the nursing home and signed her Medicaid application would have signed an acknowledgement that all her assets are subject to MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. So whomever did that is required to let the state know of any changes in her assets, if they don't the state can come after them for recoup. Who signed the forms? If he did, then he knew MERP would happen.

Alaska, Georgia, Michigan and Texas are the states that so far don't do any real MERP recovery, all the others do. All states have to have a MERP in place in order to participate in Medicaid - some states are more aggressive in recovery and some less. The MERP claim or lien is done through probate. So it won't come about until she has died. But if she still owns 50% of the house, the son can't inherit the whole house no matter what.

Once she is on Medicaid NONE of her assets can be transferred or sold unless they are at a true value and that $ is used to pay for her care. If it is less than a true market value, the state will place a penalty on the sale (it's a % formula, slightly different for each state since each state administers Medicaid differently and has a different asset ceiling).

Now, stay with me on this, some states do Medicaid and MERP by state employees and some have independent companies contracted. So some states never do a cross reference on property ownership until the Medicaid recipient dies
(the state is notified by SSA) and the estate goes to probate. Some states do an annual check of conveyance records on those who have a homestead.

But the real problem will be when whomever wants to own the property and needs to get a clear title to do so. The release of the property will happen in probate. But probate will show a MERP claim against the estate. So MERP will have to be satisfied (paid off) for that to happen. In theory, every home is subject to MERP. In actuality, the #'s are low but it could happen and someone would have to come up with the $ to satisfy the claim, close probate and transfer ownership of the house.

In general, you don't want to be stuck with a house without a clean title. This becomes an issue with trying to get insurance or secondary mortgage or home equity loan or any disaster assistance.

People think it's not going to matter but it does. After Katrina, many, many folks who totally lost their home could not get their insurance policies paid because it was viewed as an invalid policy even after years of payment because there was no clean title. Same for getting SBA to rebuild. No clear ownership, no $.

What I would suggest to do first is to find out if in fact there is a change of title to the property by whom and when. Your county assessor will have this information. It is usually on line and free. If you want a copy of the actual title that will cost but still is cheap. If it is 50% transferred to your late brother, then you can go to probate to put in a claim for the house on behalf of your mom (which is going to the state for her care). Start scanning the papers to see in the legal notices when his estate hearing is set for. Some counties have this on-line too. It is required to be a printed legal notice. Once you have the paperwork and notice info, then you should get an elder care attorney to sort out the mess so that it is all kum-ba-ya with the state Medicaid system. So mom doesn't get unqualified for Medicaid. good luck!

Reach out to him first for an explanation. Even if it's pure, unadulterated greed. Do not threaten to take him to court or tell him what you're planning to do as it'll give him the time to cover his tracks. Good luck brother.
Dont sweat it when Medicaid does their very extensive 5 yr. back search and they will, he will be held responsible for paying Medicaid back. He obviously isn't as slick as he thinks he is.
I doubt very much that this was intentional fraud, although there is no way to have brother explain his motives, now that he has died. It wasn't fraud, certainly, on the part of his son, who may think he now owns the house.

I think mariesmom has good advice. Get all the paperwork together and see a lawyer to straighten this out. I think the main questions here are 1) was your mother legally compentent to sign a quit claim deed? (a dementia diagnosis doesn't automatically disqualify her -- what was her cognitive level of functioning at the time of the transaction?) and 2) what is the state entitlted to out of the house proceeds? (Not all states are very diligent about pursuing this, especially if there is no probate, as I understand it).

The whole family deserves to get this cleared up. I would not automatically assume the worst of your late brother. And he probably thought he had years to change his will to reflect the home ownership issue. Since he can't explain or defend himself, I'd give his memory the benefit of the doubt. But I'd pursue straightening this out.


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