How Can Mother Needing Nursing Home Care Protect Home for Disabled Daughter?
My mother may need to go into long-term nursing home care and apply for Medicaid. She wants to be at home, but we are not sure how long we can continue to pay out-of-pocket for home care. There are people who live in her home, including one of my sisters who is a disabled adult dependent. We live in New Jersey. We know we are too late to transfer any assets without risking Medicaid penalties, since it will be within the 60-month lookback period if she applies for Medicaid soon. Here are our questions: 1 – Can we put mom’s home in a trust for my disabled sister or — perhaps better — transfer the deed/title to my disabled sister who lives in the home without Medicaid transfer penalty risk? 2 – Mom is listed on joint accounts with my disabled sister. We were told these are “mom’s money,” yet my sister is the only one who has deposited money into them. Is this true? My sister does have a letter from an attorney showing proceeds from a lawsuit along with deposit slips of money going into bank accounts. 3 – My disabled sister has a car that she has made the payments on but is in my mother’s name. The vehicle is financed, so there is still money owed on the vehicle. Can the vehicle be transferred to her? (We are looking for an elder care attorney to help with things, but we did not like the one with whom we met. His “style” did not fit to ours, and my sister noted she would not be comfortable working with him.)
You are in luck, to the extent any of your challenges can be deemed luck. Your sister’s disability makes her an exempt recipient of transfers from your mother. The house can be transferred to her outright or into trust for her sole benefit without incurring a transfer penalty. Your mother’s other assets can be transferred into trust for your sister’s sole benefit, but not to her outright without a Medicaid transfer penalty. To qualify, your sister must be receiving disability benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Check here for more information about transfers that are exempt from the Medicaid penalty.
If you don’t want to use a trust for the bank accounts, you may be able to prove that the funds are your sister’s and shouldn’t be counted as belonging to your mother, but it might not be worth the effort if you’re creating a trust for the house in any case. Whether or not to use a trust is a somewhat complicated situation and I’m glad that you’re planning on working with an attorney. You might find one either at www.elderlawanswers.com or at www.specialneedsanswers.com.