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Charlotte, NC |

My mother-in-law would like to go to nursing home. Her house is still in her name but has been willed to her daughter. Her deceased spouse was a Korean War veteran. Medicaid seems to be difficult to obtain even though she qualifies income wise. Lot of red tape. What can the family do to obtain assistance with nursing home care expenses?

Attorney Answers 3


I highly recommend your mother-in-law speak with an elder law attorney in her area to see what options may be available to help with nursing home costs. As the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, your mother-in-law may be eligible for some assistance through the VA. Eligible surviving spouses may be entitled to up to $1,094.00 per month to help pay for health care costs. However, if your mother-in-law needs nursing home care, that may not be enough to fully cover her care. If she is considering applying for Medicaid, an experienced elder law attorney can handle the application process for her. Your mother-in-law's house will not count as an asset when she applies for Medicaid, but it will be subject to estate recovery at her death, meaning that the house may have to be sold in order to pay back Medicaid for your mother-in-law's care. Your mother-in-law cannot gift the house during her lifetime because that will cause a penalty period if she is in need of Medicaid now. However, your mother-in-law's attorney can advise her on the best options to protect the house from estate recovery. To find an elder law attorney in your area, you can do a search through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys or ElderCounsel. I've posted links to those organizations below.

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My sister-in-law has lived with her mother all of her life and has provided care along with the aid of a part-time CNA. If my mother-in-law should decide to apply for Medicaid, can the house be transferred to my sister-in-law's name without penalty since she was a "caregiver child" that has lived in the property for more than two years? The family cannot afford an attorney, could legal aid help?

Doris Jordan Wiggen

Doris Jordan Wiggen


The Medicaid rules do allow the home to be transferred to a caregiver child who has lived in the home for the two years immediately preceding the Medicaid applicant's entry into a nursing facility. Timing is important as well as the ability to document both the care provided and the living arrangement. Your mother-in-law really does need to see an attorney to ensure that the property is transferred correctly and that all the requirements are met so that there are no penalties.


I recommend that you get help from an Elder Law Attorney. With proper planning Medicaid help can be obtained ifyour mother-in-law qualifies income and asse wise. Often the home can also be protected. Please let us know if we can help.

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There are plenty of lawyers on this website who can help you cut through the red tape to get the benefits your mother in law deserves... It won't be cheap, but neither is the nursing home and with proper counsel your mother in law can avoid nursing home poverty, get the care she needs, and keep her dignity...

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