Q. My father owns two homes and is currently in a nursing home. He is anticipating to stay from now on. No one resides in his primary home, but the home next to him built solely for my disabled sister and her son, who is paraplegic. They are refusing us based on this second home. What can I do?
— Trying to help
A. It sounds like you need an elder care attorney.
If you’re saying your father is being denied Medicaid because of the homes, there are ways you can protect the homes without affecting benefits eligibility.
First, we’re going to assume his grandson, who is paraplegic, is under the age of 65.
If your sister – your dad’s daughter – meets the Social Security definition of disability, meaning she is either receiving SSI or SSD or is eligible for such benefits, your father can transfer the second home to her or to his grandson without incurring a Medicaid penalty for the transfer, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.
“The transfer of the house should not adversely affect any means-tested benefits such as SSI or Medicaid that the disabled daughter or grandson might receive if that house is used as their principal place of residence,” Whitenack said.
The primary home can also be transferred to the disabled daughter or grandson or into a trust for their benefit, Whitenack. Or, it can be sold and the proceeds can be transferred to the disabled daughter and grandson or to a trust for their benefit without incurring a Medicaid penalty.
“The primary home can also be sold to pay the nursing home privately for a period of time with a portion of the proceeds transferred to or into a trust for the benefit of the disabled daughter or grandson,” she said.
To get these transfers done properly, your dad needs the help of an elder care attorney.
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Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.