Wondering about possible ramifications of selling Mom's house before she passes. Advice? - AgingCare.com

Wondering about possible ramifications of selling Mom's house before she passes. Advice?

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We put moms house in my sisters and my name 12 years ago. Moms divorced and living with me as shes unable to live alone safely anymore. My daughter and son in law are currently living in the house so its not vacant. Wondering about difference if any of selling the house now or waiting until she passes.

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If the house was gifted 12 years ago, and it's Fair Market Value was worth more than the Federal Gift Tax limit (maybe it was about $10,000 in 2003?), then there are taxes due on that gift amount above the limit. After 12 years, there could be a considerable Tax Penalty. You need not just an Elder lawyer, but a Tax lawyer. (At death, the IRS looks back on the whole life at any Gifts that were made).
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Jody, your own comment is why the comment about taxpayers paying for your mother was made. Medicaid is a program funded by taxpayers.
"We had an attorney do the paperwork of the title transfer. The only reason I'd like to sell the house now is to get out from under prop taxes and such as well as the hassle of upkeep on 2 houses. Yes medicaid could be a possibility in the future"
And going back to your original question - a couple of other considerations. Did you and sister register the deed with the county? I ask because sometimes people leave parent on deed to keep the additional homestead and elderly property tax exemptions. If you did not register the deed and your mother is still listed on the deed, and you received a property tax benefit for the last 12 years, when you do go to sell it, the title company will need to follow the deed transfer path to make sure that the seller holds proper title to transfer to seller. If the market is strong where you are, and the relatives can find somewhere else to live quickly if it sells quickly, it could make sense to sell it now. If you are trying to sell it to a family member, please remember that if you sell it below market cost, that the IRS could could come after you and your sister as gifting part of the reduced cost of the house. Since you and your sister do not live in the home as a primary residence and your mother gave up ownership all those years ago, you will not have exemptions from IRS taxes on capital gains as noted above for you and your sister. Please engage the services of both a good elder lawyer and tax preparer so that you can best dispose of this asset without your mother, you and your sister getting hit with unexpected expenses. Rather complicated and hopefully your legal person can help get your ducks in a row.
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Mallory, as I said, My mother lives with me, so taxpayers arn't picking up the tab for her care. She has income to pay for her care if she needs more skilled nursing care than I can provide. I was just wondering if there would be a difference in selling now or later.
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Mallory: Private pay may work so long that mom doesn't outlive the proceeds of the sale of her former house. I agree; she took a gamble. And a large one at that- house!
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Why did mom give away her home? She could have used that money for a nicer private room in a private nursing home. She took a gamble, lived longer than she thought, and now she has to go to a Medicaid facility and share a room with a total stranger (or two, or three). Not everyone will agree but I think you should use mom's house proceeds to pay for her care. But yeah I suppose you could keep all the money for your self, smiling all the way to the bank, while the rest of the taxpayers go to work to pay the tab for mom's bills. Some people do do that sort of thing, but it's just kicking the can down the road. Sooner or later our kids or grandkids will wake up and say "How could you have done this to us? " when the country goes bankrupt.
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So once mom goes on Medicaid and is allowed to own $2, 000 of assets, #1 not a problem since you bought the home 7 years before the lookback requirement. #2 And doesn't Medicaid pay for the NH? Otherwise, what would be the purpose of signing up for Medicaid? #3 Why would you use the money to private pay when Medicaid pays? #4 It is no longer mom's house if deeded to the current owners.
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You may also be subject to income tax on any gain on the house. Since your daughter and her husband are living there, if you are renting the house to them with a formal lease, it might need to be treated as sale of a rental property. Complications might arise, and you may want to consult an attorney or tax adviser before any sale is formalized.
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Hopefully the attorney who handled the transfer filed the gift tax form with your mother's taxes for the year of the transfer. This is an "information" form, and would have had no impact on your mother's taxes for that year or in the years since. After mom's death, the amounts on all gift tax forms are combined with the value of her estate to determine estate taxes. As long as this total is less that the applicable estate tax exclusion (currently a little over $5 million), there is no estate tax due. I doubt that estate taxes will be an issue.

There will, however, be capital gains tax. Someone will need to determine the "basis" in the property, which may be the amount originally paid plus any improvements over the years. A tax professional may be able to find something in the tax code that allows the basis to be the market value on the date of the transfer from mom to you. The capital gain will be the net sale proceeds minus this basis. If mom bought the house many years ago, this can be a significant figure. You may want to talk to an attorney or a tax professional before you sell to avoid a surprise come tax time.
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In addition to the possible failure to file gift taxes back when the property was put in your (and your sister's) names) -- there will be long term capital gains taxes due. I agree with the others, talk to an accountant with elder care issue experience.
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I think I need to talk to the attorney that set up the transfer as well as her will and get his advice. Thanks for the input everyone.
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