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How can I protect my home?

Justin, I am homebound and in a wheelchair, but with my wife’s help, we’ve made things work at home for a long time now. A couple of weeks ago, she fell and broke her hip, and we can see that we’re going to need to look at other options. We only have one child, and I plan to deed my house into her name as quickly as I can to protect it from the nursing home. Are there any issues I should watch out for?   – Sam

Thank you for writing Sam. In most cases, deeding your house to a child is not a good idea. The first thing you should realize is that a nursing home cannot take your house from you, nor would it want to. Nursing homes provide needed services to families, and they are entitled to payment for the services they provide. But when families cannot pay for nursing home care, Medicaid is often available to help with the nursing home bill. Some think that a family must have absolutely nothing before qualifying for help from Medicaid, but with a little planning, that is not true.

While nursing homes do not take the homes of their residents, Medicaid rules do allow the state to place a lien against the homes of those who receive Medicaid and die while owning real estate. So you are right to ask about ways to protect your home, but you must be careful. Medicaid rules penalize transfers of assets that occur within five years of application. Deeding your home to your daughter now that you know you will soon need care could prevent you from qualifying for the financial assistance you’re going to need. And even if Medicaid doesn’t enter the picture for your family, deeding a home to a child can have very unwelcome tax consequences.

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