I moved into my mom's house about a year ago after she had several falls and nobody was checking on her. My first thought was if I lived in her house I could at least look in on her daily, but then I learned she had dementia and was living on frozen dinners because she forgot how to cook. She was then diagnosed with a narrowing aortic valve, but the cardiologist won't do surgery due to her being 96 years old. She never did get a proper diagnosis on her dementia because she didn't go see the neurologist and didn't say anything to anyone about it.

She has since made a steady decline but she refuses to go to the Nursing Home, you'll be rudely told to shut up and get out of her home if you attempt to bring up the subject. I've been told over and over again that her care is beyond my ability but she says, "It's your job to take care of me so shut up and do it".

My mom is currently on Medicaid Waiver for home care, but she was only approved for 31 hours per week and the home care agency only has someone available for 3 hours twice a week. I can pick up the remaining hours the agency doesn't work, but otherwise I'm considered to be an unpaid caregiver and have to stay with her 24 hours a day 7 days a week with only a 2 or 3 hour break twice a week.

My mom put her house in a Life Estate back in 2008. A lawyer I talked to said if the house is sold now, my mom's share would be less than $4,000 and I would get the rest. Also, she wouldn't be able to sell the house unless I sign papers. Her car is worth less than $1,000. The lawyer also said if we could hold out selling the house, Medicaid can't touch it and it will transfer to me upon her death. The lawyer did say my mom being the life tenant retains the right to live in the house for the rest of her life.

With my mom's dementia, she made some questionable transactions with her checking account and now she doesn't know what she did. She was paying around $400 a month for several years for something.

If somehow I do manage to get her into a Nursing Home, she would need to be on Medicaid immediately. What would happen then if there was a 4 or 5 month penalty? Would I be forced to come back and care for her at home? Could I refuse to come back? I gave up my apartment and put her address on my driver's license if that makes a difference. If I left now, I'd have no job and no place to go, I'd likely take off with some friends and not come back for a week or so as I haven't had a real vacation in years.

I know I overstepped my boundaries when I used my durable POA to put a permanent stop to her bathroom remodel. It was going to cost her Medicaid Waiver $15,000 to completely gut and redo her bathroom, the project was projected to take up to 2 weeks and the Agency on Aging wanted to temporarily place her in a Nursing Home for 2 weeks during the project. How stupid does that sound? She would be in the Nursing Home, every instinct says to just leave her there but Medicaid just dropped $15,000 on her bathroom so she could stay at home and she wouldn't be going home to even see it. It's bad enough Medicaid is going to be dropping $10,000 to rebuild her front porch and install a vertical lift. The project has already went to the contractor and the custom lift has been ordered so I can't stop it. It would be impossible to repay the $10,000.

The trouble is, we won't know if there is a penalty until we apply for Nursing Home Medicaid, as there is no lookback for the Medicaid Waiver program. I also have to get my mom into the Nursing Home and I don't know how that's going to happen.

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If transfer penalty is over the mystery $400 a mo payments, you need to do your best Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars & try to figure out what $ was for......

if it was a fixed $ amount (like $ 432.11) either by check or auto pay & was for 2-4 years and in the $350-$450 range, it could be a car note, or preneed funeral & burial contract, or new AC/heat system or new roof. All those run $15-20k so that 3-4 years makes sense. If it was something house, like roof or AC, often those require a permit from the city and code enforcement after job done. So check city records to see if something like that exists & it should show who (name of roofing co,) pulled the permit. Her neighbors also might know if work was done on the house, as it could be some event that everybody was affected by.... like a bad hailstorm, so everybody got new roofing. If it’s possible funeral preneed call around to see if she has a preneed in a file at one of the funeral homes. It’s kinda amazing but elders will go an buy $$$ preneed and not always tell their kids.

if it’s cash, I’d chat up the neighbors to see if mom had a tenant or new friend at the time. Ask at her church if they had an assessment or fundraiser and she joined it and paid cash ea mo. Ask her hairdresser too. Someone knows what she was doing with her $.

Also kudos to you for getting that bathroom “modifications” 86’d.
On the lift and porch, that I think you’ll find is actually going to be a good thing to have to use. I bet it’s actually community block development grant $ getting used for it but Medicaid is administering the program as that’s how they find property owners “at need” to qualify. You may even find you’ll wonder how you & mom managed without a lift & better porch configuration before. I’m in New Orleans and in our area lots of folks have raised homes, like 8’-24’ raised because of flooding issues, and lots of vertical lifts. You’ll never trudge groceries up the stairs ever again once you can put stuff on the lift.
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Why do you think there would be a 4K transfer penalty?
It’s the LE right? Or is it 4-5k in $400 a mo payments to an unknown?

If it’s based on 96 yr old mom’s % of her ownership on LE house & your plan is to sell it, I’d be cautious. Superduper cautious. Personally I think you’d find yourself in paperwork hell. Reason being is that as house is in a LE, it is still totally under mom’s control. She is owner & can sell it & if she were to do that, I’ll bet you that Medicaid will take a firm position that all $ from the sale is hers. Not the actuarial tables for LE that show her 4% and you 96%, but all hers. You would have to get an atty to contest Medicaids decision, have a hearing, do an appeal, yada yada. This is why the atty has advised you it would be easier if she were to die still w house in its LE as then the property reverts to you totally & outside of probate and outside of any recovery. It’s straightforward and with a bow on it.
imo keeping house is your best path.... yeah it means either:
- you have to stay at the house and do whatever to caregive till mom dies. After death, you’ll have the LE to get house. Plus should Medicaid want to attempt MERP for all those years mom was on community based Medicaid, you have the 2 yr+ caregiver exemption if need be to provide to MERP... or
- house stays as is w u living there but mom moves into a NH & applies for LTC Medicaid. She continues to own the home & you stay living there as you were already there as her CG. BUT REMEMBER as LTC Medicaid requires a copay of basically all her income to be laid to NH, she will have no-nada-zero $ for anything house. So all property costs - taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs- are all on you to pay and pay till past moms death and that LE transfers ownership to you & then u sell. So if you realistically have no $ to pay for utilities much less taxes & insurance, plus your own personal living costs, this plan doesn’t work.

ALSO If house were to sell, & $ goes 4% to her and 96% to you & mom moves into a NH then applies for Medicaid and they rule ineligiblity, that NH she is in will not just sit idly by and let her bill rack up. Medicaid will cc NH the ineligiblity notice as well. Mom will shift to private pay and NH will do whatever to get paid. Like make you sign off to be personally responsible if mom is to continue to live there; or they get a judgement against mom &/or you for the outstanding Bill. Medicaid seems to run 3-5 mos to make a decision, if ruled against mom that could 40-60k bill for just a few months. NH are especially ruthless on billing issues.

SG, I’m not trying to be harsh, but I don’t think you have a lot of options. What the atty told you was the best path, to keep house and wait till after mom dies to sell it. You have a place to live and it has minimal financial costs to you. Your not working outside of her CG, we’re all dealing in time of Covid, having housing is important. You kinda have to tough it out for a yr or two. Your mom has some sort of income, she needs to use some of her $ to private pay for inhome health in some way. So she hires someone to come in 1 or 2 days a week for 6 hrs and you take that time off completely.

another post in if it’s the $400 mystery $....
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