Can We Keep The Home?

Justin, My mother will be moving into a nursing home next week. She owns a house and a car, and she has about $25,000 in the bank. The people I’ve talked to say she just needs to spend her money down to $2,000, then she can go on Medicaid. Is that right?  – Sandra

Sandra, It’s true that a single person can qualify for Medicaid in a nursing home if they have no more than a house, a vehicle, and $2,000. However, the plan that was suggested to you can have unintended consequences down the road.

When a person who received Medicaid benefits in a nursing home dies while still owning their home, the state can put a lien against the house. This lien prevents the family from transferring the house to the heirs. If the family tries to sell the house, this lien must be paid to the state before the family can receive any of the funds.

Keeping the house when applying for Medicaid in a nursing home is rarely the best course of action. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t planning opportunities available for those who want to save the house or for those who are interested in selling the house without throwing away all the proceeds. The options will be better if you plan while your mother still has some money in the bank instead of waiting until she has spent down as others have suggested.

By the way, it sounds like you’ve only be advised of the Medicaid asset rules, but there are other technicalities you have to watch out for. Medicaid has an income limit and gifting rules that can trip up applicants who are worried only about the $2,000 asset limit. To learn more, pick up a copy of my book at YourPlanMatters.com and call to schedule a time to speak with one of us about the bigger picture your mother will face now that she is in need of nursing home care.