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My mom was just put in a nursing home...she is being switched over to Medicaid from Medicare...she owns a home and a car. They have taken over her bank account and give her only $35 a month...
Can they force her to sell her home and car?

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My parents no longer drive, but I drive them everywhere. They gifted me their car, but it got bad MPG, so I sold it (with their blessings! ) and together we put the monies into a separate bank account. Account is only in my name, but that was what THEY wanted, and we have agreed if they need those monies for LTC then I will use it for them, but if they both pass away without needing it, then it's mine because I'm the only one of the kids who does anything significant for them.
As others have mentioned, I am totally aware of the Medicaid look-back so definitley am not touching this account whatsoever.
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We gifted my fathers truck to a nephew (allowed) and I bought their sweet ride, so they had the money but still had the car to be driven around in. Did I pay "full market price".. no... but I paid what I had to, a fair enough value. Depreciation and 'shape' are relative... No one came to check if it was pristine or beat up. However, they live with me, and will be for the forseeable future so I think I am ok for now. Mom keeps talking about getting a newer car.. but I am stalling that as I own the current one..LOL dad;s truck was pretty old...
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And, its taken me over three years to not break down and cry every time I think about it...this is one of the first times that telling that story does not hurt quite so much. So, hugs, and strength to you to do whatever is best for Mom and you.
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That said, I briefly USED Mom's care to run errands for her on those visits when I flew rather than drove to see her and take care of stuff, but did end up selling and using proceeds for her care after it was clearer to me she would not be able to go back. My Dad died soon after that. It was a LOT less expensive to use a hotel than to keep up the house and property taxes and insurance, not to mention keeping up appearances that someone occupied it full time instead of occasionally...and then I finally moved her to live closer to me for what turned out to be her last year and a half. I never told either parent that I sold it, but did eventually tell mom that we were letting another nice couple live there and take care of everything. Pictures of it helped her not to worry about it, which she tended to do pretty constantly. After all, taking care of that house had been her main purpose in life for over 50 years...
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Typically one car and one home are exempt assets as long as the person states an intention to return, there would be estate recovery issues rather than you inheriting them at her passing though. Eldercare attorney or estate planner, funded by your mom if there is any way possible, could be helpful. I thought you could also keep enough to pay utilities and maintenance of the home at least though. I had to produce all my parents' utility bills and such when we had Mom as the community spouse. They left her with something to live on, but not enough to pay medical bill copays they still had from time to time. I'll pass along what I was told - "Medicaid is not in the business of preserving estates for heirs."
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Lu - Medicaid requires that the elder in a NH with Medicaid paying do a co-pay or an "SOC" (share of costs) of whatever is their monthly income less a small personal needs allowance. The PNA varies by state, your state based on what you wrote has the PNA at $ 35. My mom is in TX and the PNA is $ 60.

Now under Medicaid rules by & large their homestead & a car is an exempt asset for Medicaid. They do NOT need to sell it. However because of the required SOC they will have no $ to pay for anything for either. So someone will have to pay insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc on car/home and have to be able to do this for the rest of mom's life if they want to keep them.

For most, doing this for an unknown possible years & years is just not realistic. So the car/home gets sold. But if you have the ability and deeper pockets to pay for all on home & car and have a reasonable exemption, etc to MERP keeping both can make sense. Realize that as home / car are "real" property, the sale is recorded by the local tax assessor and then dovetailed into the state's database so the state will know to the penny what the proceeds were. The $ needs to be used in a spend down as more than likely it will take mom over the Medicaid monthly income limit. If the amount is large enough, this can be a good thing as now mom is private pay and if you state allows you can divert some of the $ to be able to buy a paid in full pre-need funeral policy, or get things for mom (hearing aids, dental work, glasses) that are iffy or minimal on Medicaid. Or you state may require that the proceeds go to pay back or reimburse care paid for to date. You need to find out which approach your state requires. The Medicaid caseworker for the NH will know.

If you want to keep the house, please review all the costs on the home for the past maybe 2 - 3 years and then take a hard look to see if this is affordable for you. In many ways keeping the parents home is like having a 2nd or 3rd home but with no guaranteed equity or ability of ownership. For most, a 2nd home is totally out of the ? of affordability. Then also realize that upon death the home /car exempt status changed to non-exempt and your state's MERP will come into play. MERP is Medicaid Estate Recovery Program & all state are required to have one. Just how it runs is very much interdependent on your states death, probate & property laws. Some states have it as a lien on the property & then other states have it as a claim against the estate. Very different legal approaches. Like for TX, probate is a Level of Claim state & MERP is a Class 7 claim and gets paid only after all claims in class 1 - 6 are settled. If you keep the house, you need to find out how MERP runs in your state (and carefully look at any exemptions, exclusions to MERP) & really you need an experienced elder law / probate attorney to work with you on this unless you can be very OCD on documentation and totally comfortable in a courthouse.

Now if the #'s work for you, great & you need to start documenting all the costs on the property from day 1 of NH stay. Most states allow for an exemption to all costs of the property paid by family on an empty home. This amount is deducted from the MERP tally and it kinda has to be as you can file this as a claim against the estate in probate court….so 1 way or another it's getting deducted from the estate. If realistically you have the funds to pay for everything on the house for years & years & years and can realistically qualify for one or some of the MERP exemptions, exclusions or hardships allowed against MERP in your state, then keeping property can make total sense. If mom's house costs 10K to run for the year great but if it's 30K as there's a mortgage then probably not. Good luck.

I do think that Medicaid really doesn't make the SOC / copay clear to family as to what it means. It seems to always come as a surprise to family too.
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Thank you...that was very helpful. Can they force my mother to sell her car? What if I take her car and take care of it while she is in the nursing home? Will I be allowed to do that? But I'm guessing they won't let her pay her car insurance...and if I pay her car insurance, that might be an issue...
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If you take the car, pay her the full market value or Medicaid STOPS cold. They will put a lien on the house, but not force it to be sold. On the other hand, all her income will go to the NH, so there is no money to keep up the house. If you rent the house, the rent money also goes to her care.
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