Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States and provides…
Elder law attorneys are often presented with heartbreaking questions and one of the most common concerns is the fear that an individual will lose their home to long-term care costs. As hard as these questions are to hear, one benefit of practicing elder law is the ability to provide reassuring answers when presented with such fears. If you are an individual suffering from the fear that you may lose your home because either you or your spouse requires nursing home care, rest easy knowing that a little planning can prevent this tragic situation from ever coming to fruition.
Where Does the Fear of Losing Your Home to Nursing Home Care Costs Come From?
This common fear arises from the fact that most individuals will require Medicaid coverage to mitigate the cost of long-term care.
Medicaid is a complex program that involves both federal and state-level regulations. Eligibility guidelines vary depending on where you live but all share the common feature that qualified applicants must have limited assets and income. In addition, Medicaid imposes a penalty period on asset transfers made within five years of the date a person applies for the program which is why it is important to begin planning early to ensure you are eligible for coverage when the need arises.
Despite the restrictions just described, a person’s primary residence is generally exempt when assets are calculated and so owning a home is not a barrier to gaining Medicaid coverage. This is especially true if your home equity numbers less than $603,000 in 2021 (though even if it exceeds this number an experienced estate planning attorney can help you work out options). Accordingly, you need not give up home-ownership when planning to qualify for Medicaid and thereby gain access to nursing home care.
But Won’t the State Come After My Home When I Die?
The short answer to this question is, not necessarily, especially if proper planning is done ahead of time. If your spouse, minor or disabled child or sibling with an equity interest continues to reside in the house, the state cannot file a claim against the property for reimbursement of Medicaid nursing home expenses. Should any of these parties die or move out, however, collection proceedings may commence. That said, other tools exist to protect the family home.
The state cannot come after your home if, for instance, the house is in your spouse’s name and you no longer maintain interest. Likewise, if placed in an irrevocable living trust, the state cannot collect on your home. Lastly, if your children or relatives qualify for an undue hardship waiver, you can rest easy knowing your house is protected.
At the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm, we would be happy to talk further about each of the options described in this article and determine which best suits your circumstances. To learn more, call us at 417-623-2062 or reach out via the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm