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Her children did not transfer any of her assets so she has been paying the NH for about a year. She has about $50,000 left and she owns a house. We are in the process of spending down her money making sure everything is spent on her care and needs. She is 98 years old and was in good health until she broke her hip. She has not recovered enough to walk. She has dementia and some days has a hard time coming up with what she wants to say. My question is should we sell the house and just use the money to pay the nursing home as long as it lasts or keep the house? If we keep it, there are taxes, insurance and upkeep. She will not have any money for this. Unfortunately my husband will probably be the one to have to pay it. If we don't sell it, it will just be sitting empty until she dies. There is still furniture in the house as well as her personal items like picture albums, clothes, etc. Are we allowed to remove those things regardless of what we do with the house?

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Good points Glad and Garden. Thanks for the insight.
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I have only an observation on the overall issue of quality care. I have no experience with Medicaid other than working for an attorney who helped clients shield assets so their wealthy parents could get Medicaid. And I found that offensive so I worked for that person only until I could find something better.

But I think that qualify of life is a factor here. Granted, it's a challenge to plan for care with the unknown factor of longevity. But I also think that moving to a facility is challenging enough with the place being of lesser quality, such as I believe Medicaid facilities have (based on posts I've read here).

If my parent's last years are going to be away from home, I'd want something that is as good as possible, not something where less is offered b/c Medicaid facilities don't provide as much as private pay ones.

There will be enough caregiver guilt and recrimination as well as self reflection on whether I did the best I could, w/o wishing I hadn't planned for state assistance which might never occur.

Just my $.01worth (with inflation factored in).
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Windy, my MIL is in a Medicaid pending bed in an assisted living facility that accepts Medicaid. It's NOT the same quality of room that a private pay first facility would have been (not a rathole, but not nice furniture or lots of activities, or high end appliances or better quality of food). My FIL has her in a non-profit facility to save money for HIS care. You don't really know what the next couple of years will bring - if only one goes into care that Medicaid covers but the other one needs care too - you will have to sell to finance the care that the "lower needs" spouse has to have. Don't expect that the spouse not needing higher level will be in a big hurry to go with other spouse to assisted living - my FIL was perfectly willing to send MIL without him. And the value of a house that spouse is able to keep may not be the same in coming years if Wash DC has its way...consult elder care attorney, visit Medicaid facilities in the area they will be staying and see what your options are. None of us is likely to retain any kind of funds for inheritance unless 7 figures are involved these days...
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Just a thought. Maybe Igloo and FF can chime in.  This could apply to the original posters situation as well.

I will be facing a similar situation soon with my folks house. It will be an as is sale, the house isn't worth much but the land is quite valuable, mid 6 figures possibly.

My inclination would be to sell when folks go into care thus insuring plenty of bucks for quality facilities. Depending on life span they have enough funds for maybe 3 to 5 years of private pay without using proceeds from the house and land.

Folks have advised me to not sell until after death. Spend down current funds, apply for Medicaid and settle with Medicaid when estate is dealt with.

The theory, I think, is that facilities change much more for private pay than the Medicaid rates so at the end my Medicaid reimbursement is less of a chunk of money than private pay would have been thus larger inheritance for family.

Sounds greedy I know. But is this a common method?
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Joanne656, if you do decide to sell the house, you can sell the house "as is", thus don't bother with doing any remodeling or painting. You will be up to your eyeballs just clearing out the house. Make the house as clean as possible.

Selling "as is" is easy as most Realtors know how to work with client who is looking for a flip house, or a house to live in while remodeling. I did that with my Dad's house once he moved into senior living. He didn't want to fool with the house any more, it was just too much work for him.
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To me, if the heirs have no real interest in the house AND they are not likely to qualify for & do the follow through on possible exemptions / exclusions to MERP (estate recovery) AND do not have the funds to pay property costs from now till after mom dies & then deal with MERP & probate; then it's probably best to sell it. And sell it ASAP before mom runs through that last 48k (as she can have 2k in non-exempt assets) so she will have her own $ to pay any costs related to the house sale (like doing a clean out, appliance warranty, those things that crop up that the seller ends up needing to do & pay for in advance of a sale).

It will make it all simpler.
Otherwise, once shes at 2k in assets then you/hubs will do all the paperwork for the medicaid application & she will qualify. But once house sells, the house sale $ will make her ineligible for medicaid. So another spend-down till she's impoverished again, followed by re-applying for medicaid again.

Any costs incurred by family on the house cant be easily reinbursed from the sale as that $ will more than likely be viewed as "gifting" from mom to you by Medicaid. So sale kinda needs to all be done now while mom still has fund$.

Vacant dwelling policy. If mom still has her old homeowners policy, it may not be valid. Pls, please check with her insurer ASAP. VDP are somewhat pricey. It will be more than likely sold by independent agent. Basically its a limited fire policy. If its going to be listed, or have workers doing repairs, you may need riders.

Medicaid doesn't "take" the house per se. Its not like a mortgage co that can foreclose on property & sell it. Mortgage co is secured creditor; medicaid is unsecured. What Medicaid can do is to place a lien or a claim on the house - either of each places a cloud on the title. Just which path is inter-dependent on your states laws. So whomever is the DPOA or executor is going to end up doing the paperwork related to selling or transferring the property one way or another. The only way around this would be for mom to walk on anything on the house & not pay taxes and let it fall to a tax sale deed (or redemption) after a few years.
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It sounds like selling the house is a good idea. The housing market in many areas is up right now. If no one wants to live in the house, paying the taxes, upkeep, and unoccupied-house insurance would be costly. If there are contents worth money you can hire an estate sale company to handle clearing the space, then put it up for sale. If all proceeds are applied to her care, there will be no problems with Medicaid if you need to apply for it later. I know it is a huge chore and not one you look forward to, but your thinking is good about selling it.
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