Can I get in trouble paying for mom's property taxes and homeowners insurance when she lives in assisted living? - AgingCare.com

Can I get in trouble paying for mom's property taxes and homeowners insurance when she lives in assisted living?

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My mother just got her first payment from the VA for assisted living. She may be getting a sum of money for the amount in arrears due to her being eligible since April 1st which I figure comes to 4-5 grand. Her home is due payment for property taxes and insurance. My brother and I are also on the house, but are paying for our own homes too. Would I get in trouble recouping some of the money that has been spent to make all of her medical payments so that she is WELL below the $2000 that the state will let her keep in assets. I know that some persons will tell me to ask an attorney, but tell me one lawyer that will counsel me for FREE. I just don't want to get into trouble paying for these expenses that are legitimate.

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What is a Life Estate? My father's will states that my stepmother can use the house for as long as she lives in it but now CT DSS has claimed the house as her asset so we will not inherit although his children were supposed to have the house. What gives? Apparently it is US!
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Well katfishkate there are FREE legal services depending on where you live. You do not give that information, so it is hard to advise you well, and if you and/or your brother have POA for your mother. I see no legal denial of being reimbursed for legitimate expenses such as property taxes you mentioned, just be sure you have made a note on the check you presented for the taxes in order to get reimbursed. I am delighted to hear someone who has gotten their VA Aid and Attendance pension and it did not take 20 months like one writer wrote. I am in our fourth month waiting, and we need that money too. As long as you are honest, keep records, document everything in your power, you should be all right. Best wishes...(My husband was an attorney and I a paralegal, in our former lives).
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As others have said, you are best off by speaking with an elder law attorney. If there later on are issues with VA or Medicaid, those are totally sticky and you likely will need an attorney to deal with the fallout. Spend now or spend later.

Mominmyhome is spot-on in getting a no cash value irrevocable funeral done.

Her money - whether it is from SS or VA or retirement - can & should be spent on anything for her care or for her property. If you are her DPOA and have it indicated on the DPOA that it includes finances, then you can do this for her. Also you can be a signature on her bank account (her account solo but you can sign). But if mom is in AL, then I would think she should be competent & cognitively able to sign her checks and do whatever legally on her own.

Now your mom is getting VA right now, correct? Do you anticipate that she will need to go into a NH in the near future and will need to apply to Medicaid to pay the NH costs in addition to whatever VA pays??? If so, and I think realistically you really need to plan that she will eventually run out of $ and ability to stay in AL, then you & your brother will have to apply for Medicaid & deal with a 5 year Medicaid look-back to the date of the application. For my mom, I had to provide 3 years & 6 months of all financials which included front & back of all bank statements & the state did a 5 year internal review on property transfer (homes, land, auto's). Any check that seems odd or not to follow a reasonable pattern of spending, can be viewed as suspect which you will have to justify. Any checks written to individuals can be viewed as gifting and subject to a transfer penalty inquiry. So if you paid for health care co-pays or costs that were 100% for your mom, you have to with details document just why you wrote yourself or your brother a check for $ 218.67. Property transfers are in the states database and will eventually be found out and those usually get a transfer penalty inquiry letter out to family which has to be responded to in a pretty quick time-frame or mom gets suspended from Medicaid.

But I think you have some other issues (the house) that will be problematic in the long run. If the property has multi-ownership, then the costs on the home should be shared. So if it's 1/3 each, then everybody should be paying 1/3 insurance & taxes, etc. But maybe it is that the house perchance 100% owned by mom but in a Life Estate to you & your brother??? That's a whole other issue......

Please keep in mind that if later on mom goes onto Medicaid, she will be required to do a co-pay of all of her monthly income less whatever your state has as it's NH resident personal needs allowance ($ 30 - 90 a month). So if you all are planning on having mom's $ to underwrite the costs of maintaining the house, that $ won't be there. I'm not sure about the VA rules, but your mom may also have all the VA money going to the facility too. So everything for the property from taxes, insurance, utilities, yard, repairs, will have to be paid by someone other than mom.Now the state kinda expects if someone is living in the house, that they should pay for all as they are getting a benefit from the home owned by mom. If the house is empty, then someone still has to pay on whatever's for the house. If you & your brother are feeling pinched in house costs now (with mom contributing to paying costs), it will probably not be feasible to keep the house for the rest of mom's life. If mom is still relatively youngish elder, she could easily live another decade plus. Would you all be able to pay for everything house if need be?? Now we don't have a crystal ball but we can kinda figure out what is realistic.

Also if she goes onto Medicaid, the state has the ability to estate recovery for it's Medicaid payout for your mom. This is done through MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. How it happens is very dependent on your state's laws on death and personal property (in how claims or leins can be done) and probate law and whether or not there are valid exemptions filed to MERP. If mom still has the house and applies for Medicaid, there will be a MERP claim on lein on the property
allowed by her accepting Medicaid to pay for her NH. MERP is required to be done in order for the state to get federal $ for Medicaid. Each state approach this differently as state laws differ. Another reason why an attorney is needed.

In my mom's state, there is not a lein registered at the courthouse. Instead it is a claim against the estate who's asset is the house. A class 7 claim. So if you go to sell or transfer the house, the claim will show up in title search and you cannot get a title issued until the claim is released. Whether or not the state goes after the property depends on alot of factors but realize that MERP is out there and can be done. You have to think proactive long term if you all keep the house for her lifetime. So if you see an attorney now you could use them to deal with her estate later on too which will save time, $ and stress then.Good luck!
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If mom is on medicaid or aid and goes one penny above $2,000 limit when they look at her bank statements and holdings (they probably will review them), they could cut her off from help. I was in this situation with my mom, so I took excess monies gotten from insurances and did what I was instructed to do by DHS and put in in an irrevocable funeral agreement. If you want to recoup monies from medical expenses, etc. maybe you could ask her if she is able, and have her sign something.
If she lived with you, you or you can show bills you paid for her, you could probably ask Department ofHumanServices or VA about this and perhaps recoup some.
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If you have Financial Power of Attorney given to you by your mom, most places accept this, especially if you get copies of this document and have it sealed at notary or bank. Most government organizations like Sociall Security, Veterans' don't seem to accept it, tho. You have to at least have your mom's signature on documents. However, every bank, insurance, credit card company seems to accept FPOA and you don't really need her actual signature if she is incapacitated. I paid lots of my mom's bills this way and dealt with insurance companies.
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Please ask the VA, and by that I mean a real VA office or a VSO (veterans service organization). If you use VA Aid & Attendance incorrectly, you could be liable to pay it back to them. I'd be very careful, but you need not pay for VA-certified advice!
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The bottom line is that the taxes have to be paid unless it is to end up in a tax sale. Other than that I have no information to share
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p.s. If you are using HER money to pay HER expenses, I don't think YOU could get in trouble, but I think you want to ensure you don't cause HER problems financially. You might help her AVOID some by learning and then helping the situation.
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I wonder if part of the answer might be "what would she want?" If you can say that she would want her property taxes paid, as opposed to say, having to sell her house or foreclosure, I don't see how how you would have any alternative to paying her taxes. What would a viable aleternative be? You might want to have POA to justify your feelings that you know what she wants. No one in their right mind could think she'd want the house to rot, but maybe she'd want to pay someone to get rid of it (a real estate broker?) and then use the money for her living expenses, which is insane..... Yes, cause if you sell it, the value would then be seizable by Medicare or equivalent, but if you don't, hmmm...... we need some more opinions here .... people? (by the way, I would take some time to see what advice your senior agencies in town can give you. Their advice will have merit in that they've probably seen similar situations.
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If she still owns the house, it sounds all right to me. It's using her money for her expenses.

You can get good advice from your local area council on aging. In some areas, they even feature free short consultations with Elder Law attorneys.
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