Will Medicaid Take My House?


Families who haven’t engaged in asset protection are often surprised when they discover there’s a claim against the family house filed by Georgia’s Medicaid program. The rules about homeownership and Medicaid can be very confusing! A nursing home resident can own a home and still receive Medicaid benefits because the home is considered an exempt asset. However, once the nursing home resident dies, the home can be subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery.


Margaret is 88 years old, and diagnosed with advanced MS and heart problems. Diane, Margaret’s daughter, moved into Margaret’s home 3 years ago to help care for her mom. After a recent fall and rehab stay, Diane has determined her mom should stay in the skilled nursing facility long-term. She intends to apply for nursing home Medicaid to offset the exorbitant cost of long-term care for Margaret, but Diane is worried about estate recovery.  Will she need to move out of the home when her mother passes away?


Estate recovery is a program, required by federal law, where Medicaid members with qualified assets reimburse the taxpayers for long-term care and home and community-based services. Funds are recovered from the member’s estate, after death, for the cost of these services.


So…what can Diane do?  Will she lose her home?


There are ways to protect the home from Medicaid Estate Recovery. It is critical you contact an experienced elder law attorney before making any transfers. Transferring assets without proper guidance often causes additional expense and headaches. Sometimes an option is to transfer the house to another person before applying for Medicaid, but this may incur a Medicaid penalty.

Other times a transfer exception can be made for a “caretaker child”.  This means a child of the applicant who lived in the house for at least two years prior to the applicant’s institutionalization and who during that period provided care that allowed the applicant to avoid a nursing home stay. As you see, there are lots of rules and obstacles.


Because Diane has been a full-time caregiver for her mom the last three years, transferring the home to Diane is an acceptable course of action.  Margaret can then apply for Medicaid without penalty.


There are other ways to protect a home from estate recovery. A certified elder law attorney can determine which course of action makes the most sense for each family situation. No two families are the same. Please call Hurley Elder Care Law to learn more: 404-843-0121.

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