My mother bought a house after my divorce at 21yrs old. We've been sharing mortgage and bill payments. She can't pay any longer. Any advice?

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She is in 4th stage cirrhosis and is unable to pay on the house, now I am the head of the household. My mother is receiving Medicaid (waiver plan in Texas). I was told Medicaid could waive the medical debt if her grandkids under 21 lives in the house? My 3 kids are living there someone said Medicaid will take the house that we've been paying for 16 yrs as an asset to pay Medicaid later. The house is under my mother's name only. I don't know if it's best to change it under my name or if Medicaid in the future will ask for the money because I know they can go back and check the last 5 yrs no transfers of properties under her name?

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Sonia, house is legally in your mothers name. It is exactly like Guest described. She’s already on a TX Medicaid waiver program. If she went onto it since 2006, Medicaid’s Estate Recovery program (MERP) is required to attempt a recoup or recovery of all costs paid by Medicaid on her from whatever assets she has after she dies. The house in her name becomes an asset of her Estate.

GuestShoppe, it won’t be a traditional “lien” is my experience. If you go down to the county courthouse over to co clerks office it won’t be filed and recorded like a mortgage or release of deed of trust documents are. TX is very pro-property rights type of state. Unsecured creditors - credit cards, Medicaid- cannot place a lien on a homestead. Only mortgage holders can or workman’s liens (like from a roofing or renovation co) if properly filed can as for those are secured lenders.....the property used to securitize the lending. Medicaid instead will be a claim against the estate which has the house as an asset of the estate. It’s more of a subterranean lien/claim situation that shows up as a cloud on the title if house still in the deceased elders name goes to be sold.

To me due to all this, the road divides into 3 paths....
-if mom dies intestate then her assets escheat to the state, so family has to do some sort of Lineal Heirship to prove relationship and deal with state that - ‘cause assets escheat to state - is in control of assets. And each heir has to get their own clearance or release for MERP. Yeah fat chance that’s likely...
OR
- there’s a valid will then family / heirs as per will either can provide documentation in response to TX Estate Recovery outside contractor that all the heirs qualify for exemption &/or there’s enough exclusions to Recovery &/or its beyond cost effective so that no recovery is done. Ditto on chance on this.... 
- or if that can’t worm it’s way through then family opens probate and how the will reads becomes paramount. And to me, opening probate is best as it provides a set established rules for everybody to deal with Heirship, property costs, MERP, asset distribution, etc. TX is a level of claim by class for probate and Medicaid is a class 7 claim. But at a minimum your likely looking at 1-2 years to close probate. All this has costs and executor has to be independent administrator and tippy top on all estate expenses and in dealing with atty & court. 

Whatever happens both now and till beyond death, house has costs that must be dealt with by family and paid on a property that family does not own and may not own so there’s risk. You’re paying everything on house right? Please realize that Once mom dies, the assessor will have property taxes dramatically increase as there’s no exemptions. It doesn’t matter if others live in the house that could get exemption(s) if they owned it. If you want to challenge assessment, you have to have legal standing to do so, which means being DPOA when she’s alive or named Executor via Letters Testamentary once she’s dead. I’ve challenged assessor more than once and if you don’t have valid legal paperwork to represent property, you’re toast on a hearing. A $800 over 65 w/homestead tax bill will likely be 3-4 times more after death.

Sonia - there are all sorts of exemptions to estate recovery. The most common discussed is the caregiver exemption if a family member who is the only heir & they lived with the parents and provided care for them that keep them out of a NH for 2 years prior and the caregiver can properly document care needed with signed letter from their MD perhaps with ICD10 codes. It sounds like caregiver exemption not your situation. There’s also a Low income heir exemption. The grandkids -if I had to guess in my not an atty perspective - can’t qualify as their dependents of their parents if their minors but I’m not sure just how minors inheritance work. 

You & mom might want to speak with an NAELA or CELA level atty to see if she can do a “Lady Bird Deed” to you at this point in time as she’s already on Medicaid. TX is one of the few states that allow for them (enhanced benefit Deed). The Lady Bird transfers property after death outside of probate so no claim can be filed. 
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If she is currently on Medicaid, DON'T transfer the deed to yourself at this point without getting legal help. It will be a gift and disqualify her as a transfer of assets. If the house is ONLY in mother's name, you need to find a lawyer familiar with Medicaid in Texas to get paperwork put together if you qualify for caregiver exemption to transfer your mother's interest in the house. You do understand that if there is a mortgage and mother goes into a facility on Medicaid, there will be NO money left to help with household bills and the mortgage if only in her name can be called in by the bank? Medicaid won't TAKE the house - they are not in the business of real estate. But they can put a "lien" on the house which means your mother cannot transfer it or sell it without paying Medicaid back. If she's on Medicaid now, you need to find out if a "lien" has already come into existence. Many areas in Texas have free legal clinics - try googling it.
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