Our 84 year old dad- a veteran - is no longer able to live independently in his house, so he will be moving in with one of my sisters. He lives on Social Security, has no savings/retirement/pension, and receives VA medical care as well as Medicare. His only asset is his house, worth $130K. How do we protect his only asset in the event he eventually needs assisted long term care?

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His assets are to be used for his care, not protected. Sell house and get him the best care he can afford.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Is there a reason that you think taxpayers should pay for his care instead of him since he does have the house as an asset?

Short answer, the house must be sold at market value any difference would be considered a gift by Medicaid and subject to penalty.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to gladimhere

Sell the house for as much as you can get, set up a caregivers agreement so that your dad is paying your sister a fair value for rent, food, utilities and most importantly her services as his caregiver. Her and her families lives will not be their own as soon as dad moves in.

If she plans to modify her home (her assest) then she needs to finance that expense. Dad paying to live there should cover the mortgage or loan that will initially cover the cost. If you show him paying to improve her property you will get a penalty.

See an elder law specialist to help your sister with the contract for him living with her. If you think he may need to move into long term care, have you checked what the requirements are for a veterans facility?

Most importantly you need to keep all of his money, expenditures separate from anyone else. Let him pay his share but do not let him buy extravagant gifts or give large sums of money away, doing birthdays and Christmas presents are fine as long as they are reasonable.

Best of luck with having him in your sisters home. Remember to support her and give her as much help as you can, she is going to need it. Also, try not to criticize how she does things, caregiving is a hard trial and the last thing the boots on the ground sibling needs is constructive criticism.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Your Dad’s assets need to be used to pay for care, not protected. As stated above, the house should be sold at the highest possible price and the money placed in an account for his care.
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Reply to anonymous439773

you need to sell the house for top price. and put the money in an account for him. and use the money for any needs he has beyond his SS income. you need to keep track of any money that is withdrawn from his acct. keep all receipts and keep a record of all his expenses. he cant give money away, because that can affect his future if he ever went to assisted living or memory care....or if needs Medi-caid (medi-cal).

so like gladimhere is telling you - its not a good idea.

if there is any way to get around this I would check with an elder law attorney to get advice. you don't want to go into this without thinking it all the way thru.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to wally003

Be especially careful when it comes to using your father's money to pay for adaptations to your sister's house, even if they are solely for his benefit. If I were you, I'd get estimates for everything and run it past your Medicaid advisor before you go ahead. You need to be sure they'll be considered a legitimate expense as part of the spend down.

General question, not personally aimed at you Kentucky, I'm just startled by this thought: how does a veteran have no pension? What, none at all?
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Reply to Countrymouse

KentuckyKids, you've already gotten good answers. Here's my version: If your dad sells his house at less than market value, then if he needs Medicaid assistance within the next 5 years, there will be a penalty period equal to the difference between market value and sell price. Even if you think he'll be able to hold off applying for Medicaid for 5 years, he might not and there's also the question of whether it's morally right to try to make taxpayers unnecessarily pay for his care. My advice is for him to sell at market price and then pay his caregiver daughter a fair and reasonable monthly amount for his room, board and care assistance via a personal care agreement (PCA). You can read more about PCAs and get a template for one at

Ask your dad's doctor to certify that your dad needs the care contained in the draft PCA and then ask your state's Medicaid office to review it before it's implemented. If your dad's $130k is spent via the PCA and he then needs a level of care that can't be provided by family, he shouldn't have a Medicaid penalty and taxpayers will not be unnecessarily penalized, either.  Having a PCA in place is also a good way to formally recognize what the sister caregiver is doing, which is too often forgotten by siblings who are able to continue their lives pretty much uninterrupted by the needs of their elderly parent.  Best wishes.
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Reply to bicycler

Sorry, but in today's world ppl are out living their inheritances are out the window.
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Reply to Pepsee

KK - you have been given solid advice. Please please heed it as anything involving property is recorded to the penny at the county / Parish courthouse and dovetails to the state. So Medicaid will easily in a few keystrokes just what’s what on the old homestead.

I would like to add my experience regarding property value.... value is pegged to tax assessor / collector data which in turn is based on comps of recent sales. Often for our elder parents property it has years if not decades of delayed maintenance.... not up to current codes for electrical/ plumbing... does not have granite countertops & rainfall shower heads that are now standard for market ready homes..... house is chockablock full of old peoples stuff and not ever going to be cleverly staged for sale. House isn’t likely going to get what assessor value is. If house is in an area where lots of Reno flips are happening and yours is the untouched since the 70’s house you’ll be lucky to get 30% above land value. So trying to get “FMV” will be daunting, yet that is what Medicaid will be expecting.

To get past this, I’d suggest you get the property inspected and appraised. Both done by state licensed professionals that place their seal on each document. If the appraisal comes in substantially under assessor value, and you sell it for that, Medicaid has to accept it. Appraisal is a legal document, like it can be entered for probate to establish value of assets even if assessor has it coming in way higher. Appraisal is tailored to the specifics of the house not the generalities of the area. & btw Those free market value report done by a Realtor is NOT a legal document. 

If you are not selling it via a Realtor & MLS listing but selling within family, having inspection and appraisal done will be worthwhile for all concerned.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to igloo572

As said, the house has to be sold at market value. I would put the money away for future care. If sister needs to make adjustments, take the cost out of his SS, even if sister does it as payments but keep a record. SS will not ask for how Dads money is spent but Medicaid will. If you use any of the house money you better have receipts showing the money has been used for Dads care.
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Reply to JoAnn29

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