Can Medicare make us sell mom's estate to pay for her care?

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My Mother may have to go into a nursing home. She has a life estate and was wondering what happens to the house when she goes into a nursing home. She only has Medicare. Can Medicare make us sell it to pay for her care? She has a little bit of assets and social security. If anyone can help with this matter please let me know. I would appreciate it very much. Thank you, Barbara.

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Medicare is NOT an issue for this. BUT Medicare does NOT pay for LTC either in a NH or AL. Medicare covers hospitalizations, provider costs, defined limited term post-hospitalization rehab, hospice.

It is medicaid that will pay for LTC if the applicant qualifies to be "at need" BOTH medically & financially for however your state runs its medicaid program. For financial, basically need to be impoverished (like 2k in non exempt assets and within monthly income maximum); for medical have MD orders and health history to show defined "need" for skilled nursing care in a NH or perhaps an AL. However most states do not cover AL at all or do it very limited as it is a waiver diversion of Medicaid $.

Really you need to know the difference. This site has great articles on the what's what on the M&M's.

Realize mom must spend down her assets and show up to 5 years of all banking & financials in order to qualify to be financially "at need". & from day 1 of Medicaid or "Medicaid Pending", all her monthly income must be paid to the facility as her required SOC (share of cost). Mom will have no-none-nada-zero of her $ to ever pay on anything on her house ever again. Although she can keep house as an medicaid exempt asset for her lifetime in most states, someone else will have to pay all costs on house (taxes, insurance, utilites, upkeep, etc.) while she is alive and then beyond death and through the LE settlement & possible estate recovery (MERP) process. For those with life estates, whether or not a recovery can be done will depend on your states laws; some exclude LE while others do not. But whatever the after death situation, property costs will need to be paid by someone other than mom once shes on Medicaid. 

For most it doesn't make sense to keep home. But if heirs are likely to have exemptions or exclusions to MERP; have the wallet & sense of humor & don't mind risk, then the elders continuing to own home yet be in a facility can work.

What seems to happen, based on my being on AC for about 5 years now, is that family is all a chorus together in "we're gonna keep maws house" for like 6 mo or maybe just maybe a year. Then Sissy fails to pay utilities, Big bro stops cutting lawn, taxes & insurance skyrocket as its not maws homestead anymore so new vacant dwelling insurance policy & higher taxes & nobody wants to pay either as the Medicaid lein will be a known factor so paying on anything house runs risk. If you are needing your siblings to $hare cost$ as you cannot carry all cost$ & they won't, what then?Mom could live 6 mos or 6 years & all property costs must be kept up with. It's like having a second or third home with all its expenses but without ownership.

To me a decision has to be made by the elder & with their family, that either family is fully all-in for everything house for an undetermined amount of time & $ & till as long as it takes after death to clear recovery & pay for atty fees related to after death OR house needs to be sold before ever applying for Medicaid. Its something for clear advice from an elder law atty to give you. Also please review moms asset situation with atty. as all assets must be in the LE otherwise probate will need to be opened. 
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Medicare doesn't collect reimbursements.... it is Medicaid that does. I know it is so easy to get the two of them confused.

By chance is your Mother on or will be on Medicaid?

What is complex is that your Mom has "life estate". Thus someone else [usually a relative] now owns Mom's house but your Mom can live in the house for as long as she wants... and the house remains "life estate" even if she moved to a nursing home. The "life estate" doesn't end until she passes. Thus, whomever own the house cannot sell the house or rent it out, it will sit vacant until Mom passes. Mom will still be responsible for the property taxes, utilities, and care of the house.

I assume your Mom sold the house with the clause that she has "life estate". What did Mom do with the equity from the house?

You need to make an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney to see what happens next, and how the "life estate" works. Maybe new laws in your State have changed this.
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