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We just put both my in-laws in the nursing home. They told us to start spending down some of their money, buy them clothes a TV etc. funeral expenses. We will still have some money left to use up. What else can it be used on, can it be used for repairs on their house even though they both are in the home or will that signal a red flag? We were told that we don't have to worry about the house for a year, the state can't come in and take it right away. What about a new mattress even though they are in the home?

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Yes, you can use their money for repairs and even improvements on the home, but as pointed out below, the home with all the repairs and improvements may have to be sold following the death of the survivor of your in-laws to repay the state for its Medicaid outlays on behalf of your in-laws.
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My sincere advice to you is to prep the house for sale now!
Multiple reasons being:
1. Do they have enough assets to ride out the spend down to Medicaid?-If they do not then sell it. It serves no purpose for Medicaid to get the monetary assets from it. Clean it out and sell it. That money can be used for their spend down.
2.You said they are in a home, please keep in mind that they can only attempt to file for Medicaid WHILE IN a Nursing Home. Do not screw up like I did and put them in an assisted living facility. Cause you will only have to move them again.
3. Seek out an Elder attorney, they can make your life a bit easier getting all of that paper work filled out and submitted. Nursing homes often do not stay on task with this and issues arise because of it. Get help if you think you need it.
4.Also attempt to put the parent's assets in a trust. The attorney can tell you if it can be done or not. Private pay for both parents is going to cost out of pocket big time.6k a month each.

Remember they(Medicaid) will look back 5 years...keep everything documented that your parents money is used for, EVERYTHING! It's always fun when you get the documents for the attorney and then they hand you a stack of paper back and want a copy of all of the checks of each item on each statement...ask me how I know this. :-)
I know I may sound like doom and gloom but I have just been where you are now going to have to be...keeping bank statements for 7 years doesn't sound all that bad , when you are charged 10$ for one and have to get 5 years of them cause my dad wasn't keeping good records...keep good records of everything and the best of luck to you!
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What is the long view or goal on the house?
You do realize that if they are on Medicaid, the state is required to attempt a recovery of all costs spent on their care that was paid by medicaid. This is MERP and the recovery $ will come from the proceeds of the sale of the home.

Now MERP has all sorts of exemptions, exclusions & a cost benefit analysis requirement, etc. within the program. If your goal is to keep the house & have it inhierted by family, AND there looks like the situation will work for within MERP rules or however probate is done, then continuing to keep the house can make sense. But you or other family will need to pay all costs (taxes, insurance, repairs, etc) on the house from now till whenever they both die and then through the probate process. so is this financially feasible for you from now till whenever??? In many ways keeping the home is like having a 2nd or 3rd home but without guarantee of ownership. Most of us cannot afford a 2nd home much less a 3rd home, so the parents house gets sold ASAP.

If you not planning on keeping the house, then selling it ASAP and using the funds to use as a larger spend down which perhaps enable them to be in a nicer facility, is often done by family. Keeping, doing & spending on a property that is going to get sold anyways in a year is usually a loosing proposition if Medicaid is involved.

Sometimes family keep the parents home and rent it out for the entire time that the folks are in a NH & on medicaid.
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It is so sad that a couple works their entire life, pays their bills, and lives life a. according to the rules. Pays their taxes etc. Then, they become ill and unable to care for themselves. First, thank God they have their home to sell. Second, how sad that nothing can be passed down to their kids at this point. Yet, had they been irresponsible, failed to do things according to the RULES, they could get top rate care in IL. Just does not seem right. I told my kids, that we have to do something to spend down any money I have so they can get help, IF I ever need care. What a way to plan for retirement.
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I feel ya!
It is sad. My father worked all of his life, my mom passed away in 05,my brother in 10. We are now finally making the push to get him on Medicaid and I am a nervous wreck that he won't have enough money to last the application process...it really sucks.
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What should have been done is to set aside money through your investment person for long-term care.
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There is no point in keeping the house if they are both going on Medicaid eventually. A Mattress purchase would be looked at since they are not returning to the home and no one else can live there or rent it if they are going on Medicaid. Sell the house and use the money for their care. That is what is supposed to happen.
When the money is gone Medicaid will pick up.
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A house is exempt from Medicaid Estate Recovery if there is a Disabled Adult or Minor Child.
You should consult with someone about setting up a trust.
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One thing I was told by the funeral director when we prepaid moms funeral was that she could also prepay the funerals of any son or daughter. The money would have to be in an irrevokable funeral trust. Now I never checked into this because we are using what little monies mom has for her stay at an AFCH but if you are looking for spend down options you may want to check into this to see if your states medicaid allows it.
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ramiller, I believe you are correct. BUT, I thought the expenses for his funeral, burial and cost for transporting the remains would be tax deductible. IT IS NOT. I was shocked. I needed every tax deduction I could get. I guess dead people cannot vote, so they are not protected when it comes to the final taxes.
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