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One source says it's a 90 day window to retitle assets. A second source mentioned a year's time limit.

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that's my point; don't think the kids who were deeded the properties realize that mom could still get it all back, or at least it could be taken for her care
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From what I've discerned, just what estate recovery can do is very very much dependent on your individual state laws on probate, property & debt. Some states do no estate recovery at all on a house fully inherited by the surviving spouse ever. So spouse can go and sell house after NH spouse dies and the proceeds are all theirs. Probably happens in states that are more pro property rights do this - like the states that do not ever allow defaulted credit card or other unsecured debt to be placed as a lien or a judgement on your homestead.

Also it can be administrative heavy to do this lein of the house forever approach.....like imagine if well spouse lives another decade or two and even gets remarried; states can't get too difficult on this as it places a unfair burden on the spouse to force them to stay in a home or in a city that may not be best for them over time. I'd bet there's going to be litigation if states try doing this.....

SNF doesnt get estate recovery $. Snf is paid a daily room & board by medicaid. The recovery $ is due to either the state or to its outside contractor - if your state has contracted out this function of Medicaid.

Now if house is sold, while NH spouse is alive, the proceeds from their share of sale will take their assets over the 2k limit allowed by Medicaid. They have to do a spend-down to be eligible again. But I'd bet that if the house sale $ is large enough.... you could get NH spouse off Medicaid entirely, pay off whatever recovery, private pay NH for a couple of months, and in that time get the CS to get their assets up to the medicaid maximum allowed (about 117k) and maybe get a SPIA to get all but 2k...so Nh spouse is now impoverished again. Not simple but a clever elder atty could likely structure all this. A younger CS really needs to do whatever to maximize their financial future.

From what I've gathered, life estates are done to have asset pass outside of probate. In theory, probate is how estate recovery is to happen. But states are taking a wider view of recoverable assets & can go after LEs. NYS is doing this.
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Anyone can check if they are on the title by looking at the tax records as well as the mortgage contract. Most lenders at least encourage joint ownership as it's easier to collect from a surviving spouse who has an ownership interest in a property. I've not encountered anyone with a life estate for a home and do not know how it works. Where we live it's joint ownership with right of survival. My parents property is in a community property state so things are a little different. How to account for a life estate to a former home is an interesting thought. I wouldn't be surprised if it defaults back to rules that snf couples can only have one house.
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or what if community spouse is living in home, but not sure if they're on the title but have a life estate to their former home?
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Igloo - the MERP/Estate Recovery is not supposed to take place while the surviving spouse is living in the home. I've seen conflicting information as to whether or not the spouse can sale without having to involve the state. I think, but am not certain, that at least 1/2 spouse's equity must be paid to the SNF. Then requalification would start all over again. I've also seen not seen definitive information as to whether the spouse is subjected to double impoverishment by way of re-means testing couple for total assets, dividing in half, and determining that spouse now has over the allowed spousal limits, thus having to give even more of the equity proceeds to the snf.
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I'm interested in this because I have a similar situation with my hub's aunt and uncle been working with, except re VA, which have just been told by company who's been working with veterans for a number of years to help them get their benefits that, even though it's not official yet, they're beginning to look more closely and question gifting of assets, which in their case was somewhat done with their IRA, which they didn't even tell me about until a ways into the process since they didn't want anybody to know about it, like they can't find out these things and if you try to hide it just makes everything worse and which is totally, or at least as appears on their statement and is what she's said, that she has no access to, his as the veteran and the one we've been trying to get the care for, even though she has access to other accounts on the statement and they also have a term burial insurance policy as well - was there a reason for cancelling that? not exactly sure where this leaves them but if they decide to count those assets that are gone certainly will be worse than if they don't, which if we'd been able to get this done before they started questioning things more definitely wouldn't have been done; was concerned then this would happen with them being so much more liberal than Medicaid was at the time; didn't see how it could keep going on that way and guess now it is beginning to stop so now they may for sure be ineligible for the VA benefit, which, not sure how attitudes are with Medicaid, but a lot of these veterans or maybe more just their spouses seem to feel they should be able to get this benefit regardless, that it shouldn't be income based, but with this being fairly new for VA, the usual people that help the veterans with applying for this benefit are even less knowledgeable about this than the ones for Medicaid so since the typical process has been to lock in your claim as early as possible so you can get the most retroactive benefit otoh if you're denied for these reasons then if you did it that way you would be denied for an even longer period of time, just like with Medicaid, and just have to private pay; at least, apparently, thankfully, in that sense, the companies that will pay for your care while you're waiting for your benefit to kick in normally know about this and will check into it all and just won't do it if they feel you aren't going to qualify so you at least won't be on the hook for paying them back but then otoh if you don't/can't/whatever do the private pay then you just don't get the care and right now being obligated to pay back for getting care is just something they're terrified of but things are getting worse as far as being able to provide care so wondering if 3rd option is going to loom on the horizon, something that happened with dil's family but not sure I see that happening in this situation but not sure I see it not either, just don't think they see that as a real possibility that they won't qualify for the benefit because of what they've done but then otoh they didn't think they would get it to begin with but if they'd just been willing to accept it at the time when it was easier....

they, too, needed a lawyer but when it comes to the VA people don't think so, they think they should be able to get the info from the VA directly but for whatever reason they don't tell you; they just intend for you to apply and go through the apply and deny cycle, just like with Medicaid, but then does anybody apply that expects to be denied...and just like with this Medicaid issue, with the VA, it's the veteran's interests that are being taken care of, but not the spouse's, which is where the concern is.
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House - I'd try to clearly find out IF by doing a quit claim deed in which hubs gives you all ownership on the house THAT GA Medicaid will consider it a gifting or transfer of assets of hubs 50% ownership AND place a transfer penalty of 50% of usually whatever the tax assessor has as the value of the property.

Dealing with transfer penalty is pretty cumbersome to deal with as once a penalty has been placed (not the penalty inquiry phase but once placed), they will be ineligible for Medicaid to pay (even though they are now impoverished) and its retroactive to the date of the application (which could be months). The facility will get a letter from the state as well and usually require you to sign off on a contract to private pay and for the outstanding amount past due.

For family getting a penalty the choices are stark....either sign off to private pay & have a huge debt of the NH bill; move them back into the home and deal with fallout on the past due; or you do a new quit claim to move the house back to 50/50 ownership; or the nh resident becomes a ward of the state.

Really it's a lot to deal with and there will be a elder law atty somewhere within the state of Ga that can work with you & hubs to get the option that works best. Everybody your dealing with is looking at things from their viewpoint which is to maximize& safeguard their position which could be not in your best long term interest. That why good NAELA legal will be so worthwhile as you've got a lot of intertwined & complex issues that need to be done to your advantage and not the banks, or mortgage co, or state Medicaid program.
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Bank said retitling is "probably" what's needed, though I was also told that if I wanted to pursue a quitclaim to check with the county to see how difficult it would be from that perspective. The loan officer said to call back and notify accordingly if we wanted to pursue that avenue. It doesn't answer if Medicaid approves of quitclaims. Quitclaiming would keep both spouses responsible for payment of the mortgage, but may prohibit the NH spouse from exercising any options to dispose of the property.
In our state the CS is usually not subject to MERP as long as the CS keeps the same address. Though CS has no plans to move, a pre-Medicaid sale definitely disqualifes the NH spouse due to joint ownership. There is definitely some option as far as getting the house into just the community spouse's name/control within a defined time period. In order to fully protect the CS, the NH spouse has to have no right to or control over the property.
It makes no sense to pay off through a sale if the outcome for CS is applying for & receiving the "safety nets". Entitlements provide no "safety" - just a bunch of nets to get caught into.
Mortgage has a due on sale clause and an accelerated payment clause. The second clause applies to defaults in payments. Makes sense when used to achieve normal financial objectives.
By paying off at this stage the equity realized is considered income/assets available for the NH spouse. Should we sale now, Medicaid will get what is left over after the lender is paid in full. This should take care of NH spouse's eligibility and benefits, the lender and Medicaid pay offs, but not the CS protections. Iin spite of the spousal protections, just 3 of 4 objectives are met. According to what I've read, it's even questionable whether MERP is successful because there often is just nothing to recover. The fourth - CS protection - is hard to fit into this equation.
NH says to expect apply & deny cycle and eventually Medicaid approves.

I'm really happy that 2015 is ending. I can add to my resume new experience with medical/legal marijuana issues (due to tenants at parent's property), how to dispossess, vs. evict bad tenants, how to become a landlord, how to follow through on estate settlement requirements, and how to navigate the Medicaid minefield. This is in addition to being the point person for all the spouse/financial issues.
I did not sign up for any of this. 2015 was just that way. We're further along than 8 months ago for spouse and13 months ago for Mom - when I became the executor for Mom.
We now keep the Medicaid dart game in the living room. Several months ago, I was cleaning and discovered this old dart board. It felt so good to toss the darts onto the dart board. Instead of a hunting target the center target wass a round sheet marked "Medicaid". We drew the circular lines just like a real target. Our friends bought a few orange targets - real targets and from there it is history. So we have the neighborhood Medicaid darts game. It really fees good to throw the darts - and it's cheap therapy. I highly recommend Medicaid darts to anyone needing cheap therapy.
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Speaking only to the issue of retitling: mortgages typically have standard default clauses, of which one event of default is a sale or transfer of title w/o the mortgagee's (lender's) permission. Events of default can allow the lender to accelerate the indebtedness, i.e., issue a demand letter advising that the entire balance of the mortgage is then due, as opposed to whatever longer term was established for the 30 year mortgage, if that's what it is.

As Igloo states, a mortgage lender may agree to work with you and approve of a quit claim deed transferring title to the one spouse, but it would depend on (a) the particular lender (b) the legal sophistication of the community banker with whom you discuss the issue, (c) the credit rating and assets of each of the parties individually and collectively.

If the remaining spouse had few assets and a poor credit record, for example, the lender might not be amenable to allowing the other spouse to be relieved of the debt obligation.

The title issue is kind of like the other pincing claw on a pair of crabs - you're between the claws of the lender and the claws of governmental regulations.
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I can't possibly compete (or follow) igloo...lol - too smart for me. In simple terms - if you want to get the house outta your parent's name....you have to BUY it from the mortgage co. That's right, get your own mortgage and buy it (for what is owed on it, basically). If you cannot, that's too bad.
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Houseplant - it's a maze and a minefield!

I'm going to dial back your ? regarding changing the title….my understanding on having property that has a mortgage is that since you do NOT own it outright (you do not have a cancelled Deed of Trust), you cannot just go and change the ownership paperwork. You don't own it so you cannot change the ownership…..which retitling would probably do. The mortgage holder will have to agree to any change in ownership…..this could be simple (as when couples divorce or a spouse dies) or could be complicated IF the mortgage holder requires the mortgage holder to requalify for the remainder or the loan or the mortgage holder requires a whole new loan to be done (so the old one gets cancelled and a new note with just your name on it). If the holder is one of the big banking groups, well, to me those are just so anti-consumer friendly that it's not worth doing this if you can help it. If the holder is a smaller community bank, those are better on working with you to get this done with minimal butt-rash. Find the mortgage document and carefully read it to see how changes to it need to be done.

You can't just change the title cause you don't own it to legally do so if my understanding on mortgages is correct.

Now its fabulous that you all paid additional to the mortgage principal when you did. Having a mortgage when 1 spouse is in a facility is a really budget buster. Even with the blather about you being able to have some 114K assets as a CS, having that mortgage looming out there would make me fill with dread.

Well at least the atty told you he was unqualified….that is better than his saying he knew his stuff and didn't! Some NAELA atty's do on-line consultations, there's a really great one in TX who does this. You might want to google NAELA Georgia to see if there is one who does this within your state as they have to be sharp on state laws as just what can happen is very much interdependent on your state laws and administrative code.
About getting info from local NH, etc., well for most of these folks they are not legal and so cannot say anything that could infer that whatever's said is in the law or administrative code. For me, the caseworker I dealt with for my mom's application had a jr college level education and he had approx 10 minutes to review the application, so anything that was not a simple and straightforward complete on his list of things to review would get an automatic "additional information needed" letter sent to me with a pretty strict time-frame for submission and then the application would get denied (& off his desk). I had to deal with 3 follow-up items and 2 had a 72 hr window to submit (which I did by fax as faxes are legal). IMHO a lot of this is really about getting things over with & denied by default by governmental entities imho as this was the track that happened in dealing with anything governmental that I went through due to Hurricane Katrina & to a slightly different degree with our BP/DWH spill claims. Kudos to you to getting done all that you have as doing this as a spouse is really hard as you have 3 jobs in getting his care & emotional support as one and then being the point person for all things legal & medical and then taking care of yourself.

As another aside on all this, I'd suggest you google HMS Georgia MERP to see just what the rules for exemptions, exclusions, etc are for your state. Your state is one of a dz. ++ who is using HMS as the outside contractor for MERP (estate recovery). Some states do NO recovery at all IF there is a surviving spouse who lives in the home. I'd try to find out if that is the case for GA, cause if it is, then you don't need to retitle the house. Comprende? Each of the states who have them as their outside contractor for MERP have the websites done uniquely for their state. The TX one is pretty tough read for the average person and provides little to no details on how MERP claims are dealt with if probate is done or on how the cost-benefit analysis (which is required to be done by the feds) is determined or the formula used for "recoverable estate". I'm working up a list on the deficiencies on the estate recovery system btw. So let me know what you find out about whether or not, a CS retaines the house with no MERP recovery done, ok? thanks.
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Igloo we cashed his remaining IRA and canceled the Term policy. We were paying additional principle prior to Medicaid being on the horizon. Since then we are only making minimum monthly payments in case the state ends up with the property. The remaining payoff is just enough to make the CS strapped. Over the last couple months, a local attorney said he did not understand Medicaid. He said he has never pursued this because the costs for him to qualify as a good Medicaid attorney just could not be justified as he would not get enough business. 2 were qualified but did not think our level of assets warranted the cost. Costs were be extra high as the 2 qualified attorneys were 50 miles and about 100 miles up the road. The attorney furthest away tried to link us with a local attorney, but he could not find anyone in our city. So we have been trying to get information from local NH and agencies. It's actually like pulling teeth as either they don't know or are not allowed to say. It is a very interesting minefield.
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If NH Medicaid become a reality we have been told (indirectly) the house must be retitled into the name of the community spouse within either 90 days or 1 year after Medicaid is approved. This would remove the NH spouse as an owner. It's currently in a JTWROS arrangement. If nursing home spouse dies while the house is in the JTWROS status, the state gets at least half of any equity realized should the CS decide to move or sale the property. It's not completely clear if it's only half the equity or if the state would have full claim to the equity. If the NH spouse has no ownership, as we understand, the CS will gain full control over the property. This would allow the CM spouse to sale and use the proceeds of the sale for the CS only. We think this means it must get out of the JTWROS status. If retitled into CM name only this may also eliminate the CS from having to apply for the hardship waiver upon the death of the NH spouse. It appears that a retitle is the best option but how can a retitle be done with an existing mortgage?? If it was owned free and clear a retitle would be legal on all fronts. As long as money is owed there would also be the hassle of 2 major parties clamoring for payment based upon whichever type debt is of higher priority in the creditor's world. If retitling (after becoming eligible for Medicaid) removes Medicaid from the estate claims process, this would limit the hassle to only having to deal with one major creditor - the bank. There will not be a huge pool of equity as it's a small place and sales are far less than what the tax assessment office says is the value of the property. (We know this from a review of neighborhood sales over the past couple years). We want to connect the dots before making any decisions about Medicaid or a retitle.
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Houseplant102 - you've got a pretty complex situation for CS based on your past questions. Like life insurance policies with value, right?

So there is also a house that has a mortgage? Usually for a CS that will likely continue to live in the home (with the spouse on Medicaid in a NH), you want to pay off any outstanding mortgage or debt on the house with whatever amount of $ in assets that is taking you all over the allowed asset limits for both NH spouse and for community spouse. And you want to move the $ to pay off the mortgage BEFORE the Medicaid application so that you don't end up going through the whole denial & appeal cycles.

For example, you as the CS are allowed about 114K in assets (in most states). Hubs as the NH Medicaid resident is usually allowed 2K in assets. House has a 50K mortgage. You & hubs have 200K in assets. 200 - 114 - 2 = 84K that needs to be spent down so hubs can qualify for Medicaid. Mortgage paid off (84 - 50 = 34K) with 34K left to spend down. You then find items that are the best use of the 34K…..

What is often super good for CS is for them to trade in their two cars and buy outright a newer & more dependable car. (Medicaid allows for only 1 car). Buying a pre-need funeral & burial is also a good use of spend down. Ditto for repairs on the house. Dental work is another great spend down.

Really you've got a lot of different and somewhat complex issues that you really should work with an NAELA elder law atty to get the best position for you as a CS in all this. For dealing with an individual Medicaid application, it's pretty straightforward (even through it requires paperwork & documentation)…..they have to be impoverished. But for CS, it can be quite complex and add into this is that you as the CS have your focus on dealing with the day to day health and immediate concerns of your needy spouse. Really getting good solid legal options for a CS from an atty is so worthwhile.

Retitling a house could be viewed as gifting your hubs share of the Medicaid exempt asset (the house) to you. The value of the gift would be 50% of the value of the home and will place a Medicaid transfer penalty on the gifting. Really get solid legal advice on what retitling the house could do to effect Medicaid.
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Houseplant, we need more information. Such as why do you want to change the deed to the house? Are you doing this because of a future need by Medicaid?
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