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Good Morning. Up until Hurricane Irma, my Mom lived in Orlando in a mobile home with little equity and little savings. Hurricane Irma flooded the home and the insurance has 'totaled' the home. Bottom line, she now has @ $20K to start all over again. This doesn't appear to be enough to buy a new property/mobile home as the new lenders want 25% down, and yearly income limits that she does not meet as she only has her Social Security that is not enough to qualify for a loan. So...we are in a pickle. She can't buy alone, so my options are to cosign and contribute funds to make up the difference needed to put down, or (my preference) is to buy the home myself in my name so I don't have to worry about any life events later that would lead to regrets (I am thinking of medicaid looks backs, approvals etc). I would like to buy an apartment in my name and rent it to her. It would be fair...I want to be above reproach and not cause her any medicaid hassles in the future (I worry as my family has been in nursing homes and I worry she may need the same assistance in a few years). Can anyone give me any suggestions or thoughts? I don't want to my silly mistakes that will cause issues later. I want to think it through now before I move forward! Also, on the five year look back period, how does Medicaid look at her spending? Since she lost everything in the Hurricane, she is spending a lot now from the insurance proceeds to replace furniture, clothes, you name it. Is there a limit on her spend? Will they question why she is spending so much in a six month period of time if the period fell in the five year look back period? Will they question the amount I charge her for rent if it is fair market value since I am her daughter? Thank you for any feedback or wisdom anyone can share!

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Garden - BFE ( base flood elevation) for MS & LA is coming in at 22’ for most coastal areas PLUS 2’ freeboard. So if your at or nearby the beach you could well be at zero or sea level. So you have to build up with your first floor at 24’ up. 1st floor at 24’ is really more at 3rd story. I’m waiting for the slow moving storm with cat 5 winds like Katrina that literally lifts the stilts houses up & off and tosses them a mile inland. Wizard of Oz’ish!

Worse are those who have property more inland but still coastal without a Corp of Engineers levee system in place and below the BFE to start with. Like more than 6’ below sea level. They start first floor at 30’ up.
Whichever it is, the costs related to foundation, stairs, lifts, elevators, etc just runs so much more than traditional building for elevated building and maintenance afterwards. It’s a real challenge. Most in H. harvey did not have flood insurance. I don’t see how those ever rebuild unless TX decides to do a 250k-300k grant program for home owners. (MS did a 150k MDA grant and it was still beyond that to rebuild which many folks couldn’t afford; LA did Road Home % grants which had lots of SSSandy type of contractor fraud issues). In many ways homeowners need to have their damage assessments come in way under 50% so house does not have to be torn down and rebuilt or if totaled rebuild an absolute no frills house as there’s not ever enough $$$.
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Also for Katrina, those without insurance who were displaced got 10k from FEMA. Many were on some sort of “at need” program in LA or MS. In theory it was to be a single application by household but once that was figured out folks applied as individuals. The 10k was not counted as an asset for being eligible for a new program or re-eligible for existing program or for getting stuff from an outreach program. The 10large was viewed as for displacement costs. I’d bet FL is going to have some sort of threshold amount for insurance, FEMA, charity giving that just won’t be considered as an asset. So only above that figure do you need to document where spent.
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Igloo, thanks for putting in perspective a post-hurricane recovery. I think your point about getting decent housing before it's snatched up is really good advice.

I think I wrote elsewhere that I watched a documentary on the so-called post Sandy cleanup, the botched projects, and what appeared to be an almost comical elevation of vulnerable homes on stilts (not sophisticated as has been done in other SE coastal areas, but just plain botched up).

People are also still living in houses that were damaged and haven't yet been repaired.

I think these catastrophic hurricanes are going to have a lot more long term effects than people realize.

Something else to remember is that the OP's mother is "verifiable at risk elderly homeless".
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CJ - I’m going to approach this from an entirely different angle & as one who went through Katrina & dealt with post storm recovery & rebuilding. Right now due to H. Irma your mom is “homeless” and is verifiable at risk elderly homeless. State of FL is going to have some type of fast tracking for those affected by H. irma to get priority into NH, AL, senior apts. If realistically moms at the point where living in a group situation fits for her, I’d do whatever to get her into the post Irma system to go into a IL-NH as a FL Irma evacuee resident. And be done with this. No renting from you or renting on her own. She may need to be placed outside of Orlando or Miami area. 

The 20k will come up as she will have to disclose insurance payments / settlements but she just needs to say it was used for contents replacement. 20k is pretty small amount so could easily take all for contents.(NFIP policy pay 100k contents.)

There’s a huge displacement from Irma plus there will be a continuing influx from Puerto Rico & USVI into FL till those islands can get back to some degree of normalcy. Plus those living on the other non US islands moving to So FL to have a base till they get their boat delivered or get housing situated on their carribean island. There going to be serious competition for housing (even crappy places) so toss aside whatever you thought you could buy a place for if your even close to Miami or Orlando. So imo you need to move fast to get your “homeless” mom into whatever program FL is doing & ahead of open market renting.

Buying a property to rent to me only works if you truly have the deep pockets to pay the whatever’s in an area with disaster recovery going on. Also realize there will be increased insurance costs. Insurance (flood, wind pool, homeowners) will increase but probably will have a capped annual % increase for FL homeowners on preexisting policies. But for new and rental or investment property - which buying a place for your mom would be - those caps aren’t there and the prices will be crazy high.

Mom needs to remember she’s homeless and displaced. She can stay with you or others temporarily but should she do anything to be considered part of your household, that homeless status goes away.
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I agree with those who said get a good elder law attorney, one whose specialty is long term planning. They may cost a lot, but I'd consider it an investment that will save you grief in the long run. My knowledge is limited, but I think having someone legal involved to oversee the process/wording and offer tips will keep it all clean and above reproach should Medicaid get in the picture in the future. Anyone who survived the hurricane circumstance will surely recognize why there were expenditures etc. As others said, keep the receipts, just as a precaution. Take care.
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Moving into a senior apartment, even those who take AMHA and section 8 can backfire on you. I sold my house and moved into a senior apartment. I didn't qualify for financial help but could swing the rent. Then they sold the building. The rent increase is now up to 8 percent, heading for 9 percent. And they are no longer taking new AMHA and section 8. Over 100 seniors had to move as they could no longer afford to live there. Myself included. What gets me is they have over 100 empty apartments, getting no income from them, when if they hadn't raised the rent so much they would have had some income coming in. The biggest problem with us was coming up with a security deposit and first months rent to be able to move. The majority had to either have help from their kids or move in with them. (I ended up with a taxed based apartment). I think her wanting to buy an apartment and rent it to her mom is a good one. Then she can control the rent and stop the increases in rent.
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CJ, Your Mom can spend her $20,000 on Carribean cruises or liquor as far as the Medicaid look-back is concerned, as long as it's cruises and liquor for HERSELF ONLY. Medicaid penalties only arise when people gift away the money they could have used for their own needs. Don't let her give away large amounts of cash or large gifts, and don't use any of her money to buy a house that is going to have your name as owner.
She can spend her money on herself any way she wants without incurring Medicaid penalties. And Medicaid is not going to deny or penalize her if she gives perhaps 10% of her social security to charity, $20 to a grand-kid for Christmas and birthday, etc. If she gives $15,000 of that insurance settlement to you (or anyone else, including charity) then it could be a problem. That being said, the keeping of records and receipts is a good plan.
This would be an excellent time to meet with an Elder Law attorney, since your mom could spend some of that money on legal fees to get POA, will, etc., and perhaps explore housing options you haven't considered and/or help you make a lease or written plan for her to live in a place that you own. As long as she pays you rent that's comparable or less than the local rate for similar housing, you'll have no issues with Medicaid; but written records that prove that will be a good thing to have.
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I can't see why u want to by a condo when Mom could rent a nice apt. You would have to sell the condo eventually. Medicaid look back is five years. If you r worried about the $20k then have Mom save all her receipts for items she had to replace. As long as her money is spent for her needs they won't say anything. I would keep back up for any large withdraws. She cannot give large amounts away or as gifts.
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I believe having her pay rent to a senior complex is the best bet.
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My sister did that - essentially she and her husband had a modest home built on the property (back yard area) of her home and they rented to Mom & Dad until Dad had to move to a nursing home due to his issues (he eventually moved in with me). I think it worked out until Mom also left that home (due to health concerns), and is in fact living with me now (Dad passed in 2012). For my sister, they were simply able to sell the home when they decided to move, too. As far as your other financial Q's, I have no idea, but it seems that real estate is almost-always (location, location, location) a good investment, so you might think of it that way, for beyond her stay there.
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Hi CJJSanchez,

I agree with the reply you received from Kimber166.... Use the 20k toward a senior place for herself. Otherwise, you may later on end up in a pickle with Medicaid, and here's why....

If the 20k received was to your mother, and not you, then that could cause a problem with Medicaid. This is what could happen. Medicaids look-back period is currently 5 years. Any funds from her real estate (in this case the 20k) would be used in Medicaids calculations if she went on Medicaid in 5 years or less from when the funds were moved. If she didn't need Medicaid until after 5 years from the date you use those funds, then it probably wouldn't be a problem.

So what could happen if you used her 20k?.....

Medicaid wouldn't make you pay back the $20k, but they would use it in their calculations to deny your mother Medicaid assistance, for their determined length of time they value the 20k at. In other words they would figure that if your mom had the $20k herself, then it would have reduced Medicaids liability to pay for her living expenses by x amount of time. The length of time they would deny care for her would probably be determined by the type of living arrangements her doctor would have recommended for her - in other words, assisted living, nursing home or whichever. It's difficult to explain it without getting complicated, but Medicaid laws and rules are complicated, and the only way you would know for sure how they would make that calculation would be to seek the advice of an Elder Law attorney.

Best regards to you and your Mom!
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All good suggestions as long as you keep good records and involve a lawyer to draw up any legal documents.
Has she considered buying another mobile home? She should be able to get something quite nice for $20K.Any expenses you choose to help her with will not affect Medicaid. Naturally if she needs skilled nursing any property would have to be sold and the proceeds used for her care. It is only money that flows from her that affects Medicaid
I made that suggestion because she might be happier owning her own home again having lost so much.
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Check State Law: Some States require that children care for Parents (if financial able) if that is the case in your State.
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Medicaid will pull all the financial records of your mom. Banks, investments, everything. Each item they will question. Say $1,000 for rent and utilities each month. A check is written....they will want to see proof of what that is for. That is why you need a written lease. Any payments will need documentation to prove it was not a gift.

Medicaid does not have to provide financial services for your Mom...so, failing to provide the documentation they require will get a denial from them.

Just keep good records. Keep receipts. I kept photo copies of everything stored on disk, and on a backup hard drive. I could then reprint as many copies or the original as I needed. Also..the creation dates on the files showed that they were contiguous.

I never had to make application to Medicaid for my parents...but, I was prepared for it just in case.
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Hi Cj...I really like your 'purchase/rent' idea. My advice is to get Elder Care Attorney who can guide you through this and other issues as they come up. I did so years ago when my parents were starting to decline - and also had advance directives, poa, etc. drawn up - and even call him from time to time now when things come up and his help has been been invaluable.
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Hi Kimber thank you! I don't want her to gift me the funds in any way. I want her to spend her money as she sees fit, but be smart for the future. Since she lives with me now, and will be connected in the future financially if she rents the condo from me, I want to make sure we keep everything right! :-)
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I think if mom's spending is on herself for furniture etc she should be OK (keep receipts). Medicaid is a needs based program. They will watch for money that is given away vs used on the applicant's own needs. So mom can't gift you money and then apply for Medicaid. Good luck!
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Hi KatieKate - how does Medicaid pick and review amounts they think are abnormal? What do they ask for for proof? My Mom will need to spend a bit on furniture and content replacement in the near future and those amounts will be a decent amounts but we will have receipts from Rooms to Go, etc.
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I believe the choice you suggested... but to purchase a condo in your name only...and have mom pay rent is a good one.
You will not have issues with Medicaid. Make sure you have a lease. Make sure the rent is no more than the average in that area. You could include utilities as well..then it will make everything simplier.

You are smart to think about making sure the Medicaid lookback doesn't end up taking your property from you.

As for the rest, Medicaid does not look at the cost of living or medical expenses. So long as there is no large amount above normal....it is just living expenses and will not be seen as a gift.

Get it all in writing
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Hi Garden Artist, thank you for your support! She is doing quite well under the circumstances. She lost my Dad a few years ago and the home was a little too empty, too far and too much for her to handle, so now that she is staying with me, I think she feels safer and settled in a crazy turn of events.

She definitely wants her own place though. I think that next step will really make a difference. :-)
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I can't think of any good suggestions right now but did want to offer consolation for you and your mother in the handling of post-hurricane treatment for victims.

Sadly, your mother isn't alone in being inadequately compensated.

There was a PBS special a few nights ago on post-Sandy actions, delving into fraud and abuse by those involved in the so-called reconstruction.

Unfortunately, as sophisticated as the US is or should be, we still have a lot to learn in helping hurricane victims restore their lives, and of continuing to rebuild in disaster prone areas.

On the issue of your assistance for her, I think that's the only way she'll be able to afford a place to live as the federal compensation for loss is grossly inadequate.

I can't speak to how Medicaid would view replacing items lost in the hurricane. This isn't a gift though; it's (inadequate) compensation for a loss.

But given that disaster economics is a whole different game in terms of reimbursement, I think I'd be inclined to consult either an elder attorney or someone experienced in disaster compensation to get a good legal opinion in the case the issue arises down the road.

How is your mother handling the disaster recovery, emotionally?
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You may want to get quick legal help to draw up a contract that she will pay you rent
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Why not have her rent in a senior complex that is pegged to her income? my mom has only SS and has a great two bedroom apartment and her rent is very low due to her income. Plus they have vans that go to the grocery store, etc. If she is a senior - have her live in senior housing
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