joanne1234 Asked April 2011

Can a nursing home touch Mom's house if caregiver has lived in it with her for more than 5 years?

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A Social Services worker who was here once told me that in this state, because I have lived with my mother in her house for more than 5 years providing her care, that a nursing home can't touch the house. Is that correct? To my understanding, that would mean that the house would not need to be sold in order to qualify for Medicaid, because it is exempted, correct? If that is the case, if the house were to be sold by me after her death in a nursing home, or even while she was in one, I would still need to divide up the monies from the sale between the siblings, per instructions in the will or trust, correct? At least, that's what I assume would have to happen following her death, but what if the house is sold while she is still alive? What happens to the money from the sale in a case like that? Would I need to bank it until she dies, and then divide it up? ...or... Does the fact that I have lived here for more than 5 years give me some kind of special privilege in that I could take sole ownership of the house? I am the POA, and would be the successor trustee of her revocable living trust, following her death.

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joanne1234 Apr 2011
The trust is more than 5 years old, and she does not need the funds for the moment. You're right about not distributing proceeds before death, and I would never dream of doing that. I am just trying to learn as much as possible in advance, before having to pay any pricey lawyers for advice. As far as getting siblings to agree to amendments, that may be a sticky point, as some don't feel that they need to lift a finger to help, while others (myself and sister) have been helping my mother around the clock, unpaid, for 5+ years. Mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. Thank you for your helpful reply!
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toadballet1 Apr 2011
It gets a little tricky when there is property involved. Fortunately for you, it is the primary residence. It seems like Medicaid has been more humane lately about allowing the in-home, family caregiver to remain in the home without having to sell it.

My understanding (not an expert one!) is, that if the house was originally (and is still in) the trust and has been there for 5yrs or more, I do not believe that it will be considered part of her assets. Trusts are their own "entity" - they really do not belong to anyone in particular. If you sell the house now, I do not know if the proceeds can stay within the trust, or if the 5 year "look back" starts all over again for the cash you received from the sale.

If the house is not in the trust, and if you sell it while she is alive, as the trustee, you would not distribute the proceeds as you would an inheritance. Those funds belong to your Mom and were protected by the trust for her future use. Also, they would be subject to the look back period and recovered by Medicaid for your mother's care. It is also true that, whether or not the house was in the trust, you would still be able to live there while your mom is still alive.

Unless the will states otherwise, you would not have any special privileges regarding sole ownership. If your Mom and your sibs agree that you should keep the house, you should have amendments made to the current will. A trust protects assets while the person is still alive. A will directs how assets will be divided after a person has passed.

Regardless, if your Mom needs the additional income now, it is her house to sell and use the funds as she wishes.

Please talk to an elder care attorney for advice...every state is just a little different. I have also had good luck calling ALFs to see which private companies they use to help their residents apply for VA and Medicaid benefits. These companies do this as a business and seem knowledgeable. (Btw, if your Mom or Dad was a veteran, she may be eligible for those benefits too.)
good luck
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joanne1234 Apr 2011
The house is also in the name of her revocable living trust.
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joanne1234 Apr 2011
OK, thanks! I live in Wisconsin, if that helps any.
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toadballet1 Apr 2011
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