Is my Mom required to keep home owners insurance on her house?

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We live in WV. My mom has been in a nursing home for over a year using Medicaid. She is allowed $50 per month for personal care. Plus ...enough monthly to pay for her extra health insurance premium. She has a house. Her husband, my dad, has been deceased since 1988, and no one lives in her house. I, her son, am on her checking account so I can write checks for her qualified expenses. She has about $1,400 each month at this time in the account above her amount for the nursing home cost and allowed expenses per month. I wrote from her account a check for her real estate taxes for this year. Should I ask the state DHHR for that amount to be refunded to her? Also, I received recently a statement from her home insurance carrier for the premium due on that insurance. I know her house will be sold once she passes, and that entire amount will be taken as part of her estate since her medicaid expenses, while she's been in the nursing home, will be more than her entire estate is worth. My question is, is she required to keep home owners insurance on her house? If so, is that premium amount a qualified expense that I should ask DHHR to reimburse her for? Of course that amount is for several hundred dollars and would take most of the extra money she has left in her checking account.

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loghut, think of it this way, your Mom's house is going to pay for her care either now or after the fact. Is your Mom in a nursing home that accepts private pay patients and Medicaid patients? If the answer is yes, there your Mom can stay in that nursing home no matter how the bill is paid.

But I can understand you wanting to keep the family home and not sell it. It all depends on the final cost that Medicaid would want. Right now no one knows what that will be. If the final bill is less than what the house is worth, then your Mom would have money to pass on to the family. On the other hand if the final cost for Medicaid is more than what the house is worth, all that caring for the house, winterizing it, property taxes, time used checking on the house, chasing out the mice that love vacant property, etc. would time you could never reclaim.

Your wife has an excellent idea, talk this over with an Elder Law Attorney to see what would be the best way to deal with the family home. He/She might have other ideas.

Yes, property taxes would have to be paid, otherwise the County or City/Town government would seize the property and sell it at auction. You definitely don't want that to happen.
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Real estate questions aside, I just wanted to comment about how your dealing with your mothers demise. I'm impressed with the compassionate and common sense way you are handling this tough time. Most of us will be facing the issue of how much bad news to share with elders. I think you must be a pretty good son. Thanks for your comments.
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Thanks again to all of you that replied. It's so true, and sad, how this has worked out on my home place. The place my dad worked hard to pay for, and make a home for his little family. A home to keep his family safe and sound, and happy he thought. My dad would be heart broken if he was alive today and knew what's going on.

My dear sweet mom lays in bed probably twenty hours or more a day now, in a NH with having the late stages of dementia. Her kidneys are at 30% function. Her organs are starting to fail. She eats some of one meal a day. She's losing weight and getting weaker every day. She doesn't know her oldest son passed way in April. It was my decision not tell her. Why put her through that pain and grief. No way could I could let her know the truth about her sons passing, or that her house is setting empty.

She has a will. Leaving her house to her sons. It was to be sold after her death, dividing the proceeds and her estate equally between us brothers. Now, my one younger brother and I, we get nothing.

I gave strict notice to everyone that sees or talks to her, that's not many, to keep these events from her. Why have her die grieving more that she has to? She's to the point that home to her is where she grew up as a child. She gets very confused, so I keep things simple as can be for her. Just kind of roll with what she is focusing on at the time I see and talk to her in short simple terms. It changes from day to day what she has on her mind. I'm blessed up to now she still knows me, and my wife. Don't know how long that will last.

In reading some of your replies, some of you don't understand I can't sell her house. If we put it up for sell her Medicaid stops. The market value of the house is like she has that much money. Then I'd have to remove her from the NH, or pay out of pocket for it. She needs 24/7 I can't give her. Plus I can't afford the $8,000 per month for private pay for the NH. Sad isn't it?
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Freqflyer - the bigger issue with a traditional homeowners policy is that it requires the homeowner to live in the house for the policy to be valid. Some older policies could have extended away allowed but most do not. They would need instead a Vacant Dwelling policy, which is essentially a fire policy. It will cover contents as an rider & there are riders for houses on the market as well. The Allstates, State Farms really don't underwrite VDP's. It will be a speciality carrier and they can be choosy. Minimum seems to be 100k value and done in100k increments for 6 mo period. The VDP I found were all 3 X's the cost of the old homeowners. I needed my Letters Testamentary to get the policy to be "estate of" also.

Insurance co if they find out that the owner has moved, or is not a true owner of the property (like its via a Quit claim), or policy in the DPOAs name...they could invalidate the policy & not honor a claim. Not pretty.
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I sympathise with how frustrating this situation must be. You're doing your responsible best to manage your mother's financial affairs properly, and everything seems to conspire to make it complicated and difficult. Medicare/aid being well out of my province, I too was going to suggest shopping around on the insurance policy for a better value product, with just a caveat that insurers tend not to like properties being left empty - so watch they don't hike the premium on that. But in any case, your mother's insurance premium on your mother's house should be paid with your mother's money - you shouldn't be out of pocket at all.

I too would want to get shot of the place; it's just a great pity that doing so now rather than after your mother's passing would be a bureaucratic nightmare, it seems.
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I would check with the homeowner insurance company to see what would they recommend. I would think there should be some type of liability insurance active in case someone gets hurt on the property. Some homes are vacant, yet furniture and stuff remains, but the person going door-to-door to sell something doesn't know that.... oops, his or her leg goes through the rotting wood on the front porch.
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Loghut - your mom did not give up her rights when she applied for medicaid. The state cannot force her to keep her home; it cannot keep her from selling it. But the state can & is required to attempt a recovery of any of her assets after death or a suspension of her eligibility when her assets exceed whatever the limits are for WVa.

They have to basically be impoverished to be eligible for Medicaid. If the states won't allow a sale, then that would mean that all those on NH medicaid would have homes delinquent on taxes (& then going up for tax sale & then tax redemption); homes fined for blight; homes empty & ripe to be vandalized & set afire....l

Or a meth lab or a moonshine still....

Family is under NO requirement to pay squat on their parents property. You could take the hard line that it's not your problem and walk on anything related to the property.

I would guess that the local caseworker - likely a low wage low education state employee - cannot understand nor provide any insight into the detailed legal rules regarding assets. Here's my suggestion....over the weekend do a letter addressed to whomever is the commissioner of your DHHS that mom who is impoverished but a legal resident of WVa and registered voter who is now living in a NH LTC Medicaid has a home (put in current 60k or whatever to the penny is the tax assessor value & put in its parcel #) and as Medicaid requires all her monthly income less $50 a month, she has no funds to maintain the property and you as DPOA want the regulations and procedure to sell it that are compliant for Medicaid. Keep the letter a single page BUT with CC to the local tax assessor, your local Area on Aging head, the NH ombudsman, your state senator & state rep & your Congressman. You can google up these names. You mail the DHHS one via certified mail with the return registered receipt card (green postcard) from uspo. Will run about $ 8.00 & the best eight you have spent! The CC letters you can just send via snail mail. This establishes your attempt to do your fiduciary duty on the property. if you can find the fax # for DHHS, I'd fax the letter over as well...if you fax make sure where you do this provides a transmission report. You must get a transmission report. Faxes are legal verification as is the RRR from uspo btw.

This site has a drop down list of all the Area on Aging for the states. Btw AoA are your tax $ at work. AoA are a segment of Council of Governments. COG exist all over the US as they are clearinghouses or funnels for federal & grant funding to state & private programs. There will be someone at the AOA that can get something going on this with you if the caseworker is unable to or unwilling to do any work on this situation. COG employees usually have higher education & expertise. NH ombudsman programs are usually out of the AOA/COG.

Honey I feel for you; you are trying to do the "right" thing. But you don't want to find yourself spending your $ to benefit the state with no benefit to you. You should be able to recover your costs spent for the required on the property (taxes, insurance, maintenance). I've posted on this site about what I see as issues with how MERP was planned & is structured. In a nutshell, MERP underwent planning probably late 1990's - 2005 & this was when the housing market was booming. Crappy old hours sold for hundreds of thousands of $$$. Low income folks could qualify for 500/800k homes. houses were little gold mines. Even grannies 1940's house with decades of delayed maintenance could sell for hundreds of thousands. In theory, it could sell for enough to pay off medicaid with plenty of $ to go to heirs as well. MERP was going to clean up and recover enough to pay the states medicaid costs. Everybody makes out....everybody happy! Then housing market collapsed. Foreclosures & short sales are still with us from all this. Grannies old crappy house is just that & because how NH medicaid requires grannie to do a copay (her SOC), grannies has no $ for house...house gets tax leins, no maintenance, gets blight & code fines. Crappy old house becomes even more crappy. The states aren't set up to deal with blighted old low value houses filled with old grannies stuff. It's not like your moms house is next to The Greenbriar, now is it?!? They have to let you sell the house. If WVa is actually going all hardazz on this, you can do what folks did on foreclosed houses...you mail (certified with RRR) them the keys and walk. No es su problema....

Let us know how this shakes out ok? Thanks.
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I just considered the human side of this, too. For some people selling their homes would hurt them so much and take away the joy that have in the hope of going home again. My mother would be inconsolable if she learned someone sold her home. And unless she is totally incompetent, the house couldn't be sold without her say-so.
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I think you are just like most people in this situation, we're not looking for a payday or a way to scam medicaid, just trying to care for elders and abide by the regs.

After talking to friends in similar situations and reading all the info on this thread (amazing knowledge shared here BTW) the sad fact is that it's difficult, not impossible, to sell or rent a vacant house without jumping through all the hoops. Most folks I talk to do little or no upkeep, cancel utilities and HOI. I know of no laws requiring HOI to be maintained unless there's a mortgage and the lender requires it.

I'm in Mi but my folks are in WV. I'm trying to ease them into care and out if the house. When that happens I'll close the place up, disconnect the utilities, cancel the insurance and haveva nephew mow the grass and keep an eye on the place.

I'm not interested in paying a financial advisor or attorney fees to try and come out ahead somehow on a crappy little house that will be a shove down when the estate is sold.
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Thanks for all the opinions, suggestions, and information. I've called our DHHR for answers I hoped for on the tax and HOI questions, but so far all I got was a voice mail and no call back, yet. In this situation it's only me, my one surviving brother, and our mom. I/we, had another brother that lived in the house with mom before and after she went to the NH. She went into the NH in April of 2014. He lived in the house alone after that, until he died in April of this year.

I have a POA for my mom. I've taken care of mom's house, mowing, etc. I paid for her utilities, real estate taxes, and HOI, up until now using from the money she was allowed to have, $2,000, before the medicaid kicked in. She still has about $1,200 or so of that $2,000 in her joint checking account that I'm on too. I've only used money from that account for those costs, care for her or the house. But because the house has been empty since my older brother passed, and I was told by the DHHR from the get go that I CAN'T SELL OR RENT THE HOUSE, I recently stopped all the utilities. No one lives in the house, or will. Because of me being told by the DHHR if I put the house up for sell, or rent, she would lose the medicaid benefits that pays for her NH expenses by medicaid. Me or my surviving brother don't use or take any of her money, except for her or the house. Or do we expect or want a thing that is hers and will be her estate that's sold and used for her past and future expenses. I'm just trying to manage her affairs the best I can within the rules and guidelines. If I just knew what they all are it would help me.

As I said, my brother and I want nothing, and know we won't get a penny from mom's estate. Her house and total estate won't pay for all her expenses paid by medicaid. The house has a market value of $60,000, maybe. Surely much less than $100,000. Just my guess. It's not trashy, and in decent condition. Just old, not a modern laid out floor plan, a nice size lot, and nice separate large block garage. The heat is a almost new central gas unit. But a old central A/C. As I mentioned, I've mowed all year, or paid for it to be done at times when I was away on trips, etc. And had the utilities stopped because of her dwindling funds. Yes, because we have cold freezing winters I will go there soon and winterize the house. Draining the water lines as best I can, and put antifreeze in the drain lines to prevent freezing and bursting lines.

As mentioned earlier, my brother and I know when she passes all her estate will be sold and the proceeds taken by the government because of her expenses exceeds the value for the estate. We just need to know do we HAVE TO continue the HOI and paying real estate taxes, even after her personal funds are gone? We, my brother and I, don't want to buy the house. Neither of us has the money to do that. But we don't want to use our money to pay for the house expenses either, if we don't have to. The way we see it, we don't get it after she passes, or anything of her estate. So why should we pay for the upkeep on it for the government? I've keep the outside looking decent, by mowing, etc., since our older brother passed. Why should I be expected to do more?

My brother and I excepted the fact before we had to have mom put in the NH, that we'd never get anything from our old home place. Our parents estate. We know that and have just moved on from that thought in our minds. But at the same time, I know I have to do whatever the rules are set by the government. State and/or federal. I guess as my wife said to me yesterday, maybe I need to spend some of my own money and get advice from a lawyer? Especially since it seems I'm not getting the answers from the DHHR. Plus I don't know where else to get the true facts on the guidelines here in WV. I'm not in this to use her money, or take what belongs to the state or federal government. I just want to take care of our mom and her affairs as best I can. Do wants right, and legal.

Thanks to all for your information, etc. I appreciate it very much.
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