Can Medicare take Dad's house? - AgingCare.com

Can Medicare take Dad's house?

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My dad was in a nursing home for 7 mo which medicare paid for. We had to put up his & my mom's house, can they take over house when mom dies? I have tried to find out what the actual cost is they paid but cannot get an answer from anyone. Does anyone know where I can find this information? Do I need to get a lawyer involved?

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If the state collected more than was due from the house they won't keep it. Even the IRS returns the excess proceeds.
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Sounds odd to me too. Thanks for the help and suggestions.
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Under Tennessee Medicaid regulations, the home is an exempt asset for the lifetime of the patient (as long as he intends to return home). Even after the patient dies, the state may not recover against the patient’s estate as long as there is a surviving spouse, a minor child, a blind child, a totally and permanently disabled child, a caregiver child, or a sibling with an equity interest.
The letter your mother got should have specified the amount they seek to recover. BE VERY CAREFUL to note whether the letter came from MERP or from an over aggressive bill collector. The fact that they won't quote an amount seems very suspicious. I would keep records of dates, times, who called, what they said, what they refused to say and I would file a complaint with the Tennessee Attorney General's office, because this sounds more than a bit odd to me.
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So based on all this, your mom has done what she needed to do (respond to intent letter and file the exemption and fully transfer the property to her name). Most states do not do a recoup ever from the community spouse if she continues to live in the house. Some states have it so that if she dies within the year, then they can go after the amount spent on dad by Medicaid. The MERP regulations seem to be a moving target as it is highly unpopular to do anything to make elderly unhappy but has to be done for Medicaid to get funding.

What I would do if I were your mom is to send a letter to the address in the "letter of intent" to ask for a letter from MERP for a "release of MERP claim or lien" or whatever your state has for this. Keep in mind that Medicaid is managed by the states "uniquely" for your states laws on probate, death, etc so everybody is different in what they do MERP-wise. Like for TX, you get a document for the release that specifically reads the property parcel # and the county info. Once mom gets that letter she needs to trot down to the courthouse and file it as an attachment to all the legal on the property. So that in the future when she goes to sell it or transfer it to family, there will be no question as to there being a MERP ghost to cloud the title. MERP has really placed a burden on title companies as they are on the hook if it shows up later and they have to pay out title insurance for the whole mortgage. Title companies are becoming more aware of this and are getting reticent to do policies for any property for those over a certain age without some sort of indemnity from the sellers (which of course the seller has to pay for).
You just -imho- want to do whatever to keep this from happening & do it now while all is still current and not like in 2023 when mom needs to sell the house.
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Thanks so much for your answer I appreciate. My dad did pass away while in the NH. I don't know why I said medicare (meant medicaid). Mom did get a letter of intent and filed for exemption. I asked mom if the house was in her name only and she said when dad died they took his name off and left hers. She is not planning on selling the house. We were just wondering that if she doesn't have to get medicaid and died would they take the whole house or just get what is owed to them from the sale of the house? Seems like they wouldn't take the whole house if he was only on medicaid for 7 months (really 4 if you consider that medicare paid for the first 100 days).
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MediCARE doesn't give an ant's butt about the house…but MedicAID does. So the first ? is: how was dad's stay @ the NH paid for?

If it was Medicaid, then Medicaid is required to do a recoup or recovery of the expenses paid for your dad's care from any assets of his estate after his death.
This is called MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.

Is dad dead? If so, then in most states your mom or whomever was the Medicaid contact for Dad should have received a letter (called a "letter of intent") from MERP regarding the Medicaid debt. Mom would need to file the surviving spouse exclusion or exemption to the MERP claim/lein. If she doesn't, then there can be a claim or lien on the property, which will have to be released or paid off before the property can properly sell. So did mom get the "intent" letter and did she file for an exemption?

Now some states have the Medicaid system keyed in that they know there is a "community spouse" and so they automatically have the property set for the MERP surviving spouse exemption.

Have you done probate on dad's will? and have you transferred legally the property to mom's name? I bet you haven't and in a way this is good….if this is the case I'd suggest that you send a registered letter to your state's Medicaid program's MERP division to ask for a "release of MERP claim/lien" (your mom gets this as the surviving spouse) then you file this in probate with dad's will so that the property is in her name if that is how dad's will reads. This way she can sell it without MERP getting involved (the property will have to have a release form now in most states for title insurance to ever get issued too). Realize that if in the future mom applies for Medicaid, she will need to account for just where the $ from the sale went. So all of the proceeds from the sale need to go for her needs & her care. If she gifts any $ to you or other family and applies for Medicaid in the next 5 years, they will impose a transfer penalty against her. She is in the system with documentation at this point, so no way to get around the rules. Good luck.
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