We are Georgia residents, I am disabled with wife caretaker. We live with and take care of 86 yo Mom. She is going deeper into dementia. Wife and I are her caretakers as he also cares for me. My Social Security is not enough to support us nor is the small check from private disability which runs out May 2016. She has 3K retirement from USPO and full Fed insurance. If she has to sell home to go into center we become homeless as we can't wait a year or two for section 8 housing or anything. Must she sell the home to go in even with her income. Also she has a lot of debt to pay off as well. Would she be better off to bankrupt? Her main consideration as well as ours is that we end up homeless and on the streets which, as you can understand, is something we wish to avoid.
Does anyone have any information?
My wife read somewhere that in Georgia if you are disabled and living with your parent you can not be turned out of the home. Does anyone have info on this? Are there any laws that could be helpful at all? Thank you all in advance, and please help if you can. Tom. Oh, and if this helps, I am 64 and have draw SS Disability.
No, you don't get kicked out of the house, but the day will come when you need to do something with the property, like sell it or use it as equity or get a loan to do home repairs on it and you cannot as there is a claim or lien against it and you cannot show true legal ownership. As a side story to this, we went through Hurricane Katrina and I did some outreach after the storm, what happened again & again was that family who had been living in their house for years & years never legally transferred the property to their name; it was still in their old auntie's name or grandpa's name and just passed down generationally. Whomever was there paid the taxes, kept up the house and often got insurance policies. Now when they went to get disaster recovery aid, they didn't qualify as they didn't legally own the home; the insurance company considered the policy void as they were not legally the owner so no settlement although they might return the $ paid for the policy; all the programs like SBA, Road Home, Make it Right had $$ but you had to show true legal ownership and so many just could not. This is one of the big reasons why there are blocks after blocks of empty blighted land in SE Louisiana and the MS coast. I was just flabbergasted that people just would not do probate or deeds done to ensure true legal ownership.
If later on, someone is buying the house & doing this via a mortgage, they will need title insurance. Title companies are very good on finding out if there could be MERP out there and if there is either you have to do whatever to get the release from MERP (like sign off all proceeds of the sale to MERP) or be able to put up an indemnity $$ to cover the title insurance before you can ever sell the house. If you didn't disclose the MERP existed, the buyers can sue due to fraudulent real estate listing too. Realtors very not happy. Bad situation all around.
You don't want to ignore MERP. Just how MERP's done and how easy or difficult all this is very much dependent on your state laws for probate, property, etc and also your own ability to be able to document in a timely manner whatever is needed to present to MERP the exemptions, exclusions, etc and then do probate or muniment to legally transfer the property. You probably just don't want to find yourself a few years from now in real estate limbo, living in and paying on a property that you do not own that has a lien on it that you cannot afford to ever pay off and you missed the opportunity to file the exemptions needed to get the MERP release.
- Mom's home is an exempt asset for Medicaid by & large in most states and is exempt for the rest of their life. They will need to do (or their DPOA can do) a "intent to return" letter annually if they are on Medicaid if they have a home.
- MERP issues. Now all states are required to have a MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program - set up to deal with any assets after death. Mom's house will go from an exempt asset to a non-exempt asset after she dies. Now each state runs their MERP slightly differently (just like the rest of Medicaid does) as MERP is really interdependent on your states probate, death and property laws. All states have exemptions, exclusions and hardships which family can file on MERP which can make the property be removed from MERP's clawback. Most states have a full exemption for caregivers who have lived in the property for at least 2 years and who's caregiving have kept the Medicaid person from going into a NH for those 2 years - your wife should be able to get that qualification. There also can be exemptions on low-income inheritors…..like if the house was taken by MERP then they would then have to go into Section 8 housing, so if that's the case the state would end up paying the Section 8 so instead letting them have the house is better. There should be a listing of all the MERP details on state's website.
Now MERP you don't deal with till after they die, which then poses the ?…
- can you afford the house once mom goes into a home? Once she's is in a NH and on Medicaid, she will be required to do a co-pay or her "SOC" to the NH of all her monthly income less a small personal allowance (from $ 35 - 90 a mo). Mom will have no money to pay for anything on the house. You & your spouse will need to be able to pay for everything on the still in mom's name home. Can you afford the taxes, insurance, utilities, yard stuff etc for the possible years & years that mom is in a NH. Yes in the long run you can inherit the house and get an MERP exemption, but can you all afford to be in the house for years & years? Go through the bills for the past couple of years to get an accurate cost and then look hard at you & wife's income to see if the math works. Keeping ma's house works only if you have the ability to pay for all the upkeep on the house.
- ? for you. You say mom has 3K from USPO, correct? So is it the case that mom gets each month about $ 3,000.00 a mo retirement? If so, mom is going to be over the Medicaid limit for monthly income. Most states have the limits set at about 2K for income and 2 K for assets. She will be denied Medicaid as it stands over 2K. Now mom can do a Miller Trust to deal with the excess income and get is so that she is under whatever is your states income limit. You will need to get an elder law attorney to do this for you. It is NOT a DIY project, really truly. What I'd suggest is that you get all mom's financials together (especially her award letter from USPO) and then the house paperwork and see an elder law attorney to come up with options for you all to do to ensure mom's qualifying and then you inheriting the house. Mom may be able to put the home in a special needs trust for you if you are disabled so that you do this before she applies for Medicaid.
- about the debt, the attorney can guide you on options on that too. A lot of what is possible will depend on your states laws. Like TX is real pro property rights so consumer debt cannot attach a lien to your home but other states they can. Stuff like this makes a difference in how to approach bankruptcy or just ignore the debt that mom has. Good luck.
That said, is there an assisted living that would meet her needs (instead of a skilled nursing facility) and be within her budget for private pay, leaving just maintenace expenses for you at the house (assuming she own it and is not paying off a first or second mortgage or anything)? Are her debts manageable or not? If not, a *reputable* consumer credit organization could help, and bankruptcy would not be out of the question given that income level; either could leave her with a manageable amount to pay monthly.