My father died 10 years ago and recently my mothers health has taken a downward turn. When my father died he did not have a will so under GA law 1/4 of the house went to my mother and the other 3/4 went to us 4 children. We are currently trying to sell her house to get her into something more manageable but wanted to take the Medicaid 5 year lookback into consideration as a nursing home was probably in the next 2-3 year future. We are trying to evaluate the options to protect as much of the selling price from the lookback. The Real Estate Agent is encouraging each of us siblings to sign over quitclaims of our ownership portion so that my mother can sell the house (we are all in agreement that she get out of the house and downsize and no matter how the money is distributed, we will all will put aside for her care); however, I feel that if we do such, then that money will essentially be hers at the end of the sale and essentially subject to the lookback. (even if we each get checks down the process I fear a quitclaim being signed, as suggested, would relinquish our rights and turn the check into a gift rather than a separately recognized transaction. Ahhh Any advice would help!!!

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- loose this Realtor ASAP.
- try to find a NAELA certified eider law atty.,. both to deal with current issues but also having one is going to make a Medicaid application easier if mom needs to eventually apply for Medicaid. I'd bet that any sale of property that doesnt have 100% going to elder will have a transfer inquiry letter sent to Medicaid applicant. Atty can send a letter detailing legal structure of sold property & compliance with Medicaid rules & quash any transfer penalty issues.
- if moms house is:
older & perhaps has decades since a total renovation
or decades of dalayed maintenance,
or unrealistic as to Its tax assessor value & Realtor comps,
you might want to get the house inspected to have a solid, fact based list of issues with the house to be able to do a listing price that makes sense.
Helpful Answer (1)

Son, your situation and questions are a blend of inheritance, estate planning and Medicaid issues, with some ancillary tax and real estate issues, so I would focus on attorney(s) with that background.

1. Finding an attorney(s).

My go-to choice is the state bar or county bar with listings by practice groups; estate planning is a practice group; elder law planning may be considered a subpractice or separate practice group. There are many others - real estate, criminal, health care law, media law, transactional law, etc. You want someone with expertise in the first 3 areas addressed in my first sentence.

State Bar websites often list practice groups; review them, identify firms that have those groups - larger firms with multiple practice groups in my opinion are better because you might get expertise in Medicaid from one attorney and in real estate law from his/her associate(s). In your situation that would be ideal - the firm could blend its resources to provide a more comprehensive solution to your questions.

Review the bios of the attorneys; see if they have educational outreach activities such as seminars, online newsletters, etc. I don't mean the seminars where some single practitioner presents an "estate planning seminar" with a financial planner lurking in the background. I mean professional seminars.

Some attorneys participate in what in Michigan is ICLE - Institute of Continuing Legal Education. I've been to several seminars; they were always top notch seminars, directed by attorneys to other attorneys and professionals in those fields. They were sales pitches like the "estate planning seminars" that are targeted to older people generally, and their wallets more specifically.

Make a checklist of questions, including rates - hourly or lump sum. In your situation I suspect hourly, at least for the Medicaid consultation, would be more likely.

If they publish newsletters (my attorney's firm does), read them so you can get a feel for the level of legal sophistication and approach of the firm. Then start contacting them for fee information and narrow down the list of potential firms.

I would NEVER use Angie's List or any online source for selection of a professional; one plumber whose trucks I've seen with claims of being an Angie's List plumber was the worst contractor I ever hired. I've also heard from DIY pros that they've encountered similar situations.

2. Tax issues.

Another reason for a group of attorneys in a firm is that of the capital gains issue. AKDaughter is a poster with considerable knowledge on this issue.

You might want to read her comments on the cap gains issues in these posts:

And the second paragraph of her post in this thread:

If I'm correct, the house value would have been stepped up by 50% on your father's death, but since interest is then split between your mother's 1/4 share, and the 3/4 share between 4 children, any cap gains would be equally apportioned that way. ... I think.

You might also need someone with estate planning tax background to assist on this issue so you can assess the potential liability to each of you. This probably would affect what funds are available to help your mother in the long run.

If the house remained in title to your mother until her death, I'm not sure if the cap gains would be fully stepped up or if there would still be the proportions. This is waaaayyyy beyond me at this point.

3. Deeds.

And don't even consider signing any kind of deed until you've consulted an attorney(s). The last person's advice I would take in this situation would be a realtor's; these kinds of complex inheritance situations are well beyond their knowledge.

An attorney might even know of a way funds from any sale of the house could be put in trust for your mother, but this also wouldn't be within the knowledge base of a realtor. BTW, no offense is intended toward realtors.
Helpful Answer (3)

ConcernedSon, I found my Elder Law attorney on the Aging Care website right here and you will see a box where you can put your zip code [or Mom's zip code if she lives elsewhere].

And if there are 5 owners on a Deed, that would mean every part of selling a home, the Realtor would need to contact each and everyone of you. And unless you are all on the same page on every step, it can become difficult for the Realtor. Thus, that could have been the reason for the Realtor to suggest Quick Claim. I have seen good deals lost because one owner didn't like something in the Contract and refused to sign. I've seen a Realtor buy a refrigerator to help move the sale along when one seller refused to allow the refrigerator to be part of the deal.
Helpful Answer (1)

Don't go by angies list or any of the web stuff. Find a lawyer near by, someone in your own community who handles family law. You don't need a criminal or personal injury firm.
Helpful Answer (1)

Thanks all!!! I figured RE agent or attorney likely wasn't or even couldn't think this through with all of our long term interests at heart and that's sort of what sparked the red flag in my book.. We are all just trying to find the least painful solution that also wont work against us in the future. Thanks for your input it sort of confirms my apprehension. Will any attorney RE or estate attorney suffice or does it need to be an "elder attorney." Also do you guys know of any sites that have a listing of credible or reviewed elderly attorneys (thinking something similar to an Angies list or Zoc Doc or something like that for elderly law).
Helpful Answer (0)

I would also refer this to an attorney; you have a good concept of the alternatives, but I think there's enough of an issue for the options to consult an attorney before any action is taken. Better to be safe than sorry!
Helpful Answer (1)

NOO! do not sign quitclaims!!! Sell the house and give her the 1/4 portion, which is included in the look back. Distribute the 3/4 according to law; you will have to pay capital gains on that. Get a lawyer to assist you with the sale, the Real Estate agent is an idiot.
Helpful Answer (4)

Your real estate agent does not understand Medicaid. They are interested in ease of sale, and not your mother's future needs. Consult an elder attorney that is certified.
Helpful Answer (2)

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