Skip to main content

My mother is in a care home on Medi-Cal. If she sells her house can she keep $2000 and funeral expenses, non-revokable?

Sacramento, CA |

My mother is in a care home on Medi-Cal. We are told she is allowed to have $2000. She has a home and a car. The doctors are saying she can't go home anymore. As we understand it the state will take the house even though it is in a family trust. If she sells it can she keep $2000 since she is over drawn right now? We are also told she is allowed an non-revokable funeral plan. Would she be able to keep enough to pay for an inexpensive casket, funeral visitation, not even embalming, and transport to the national cemetery where she has a plot? And is there a time frame to do this so many months before she dies?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5


For your mother to qualify for Medi-Cal in the first place, her home was counted as an exempt asset for eligibility purposes. However, except under very limited circumstances, the state will require repayment for moneys paid out for your mother after your mother has died.

If the house is sold while your mother is still alive, she would no longer have an exempt asset (i.e. her house), and the state would not only remove her from Medi-Cal, but would likely make a claim for reimbursement right away for moneys already expended on her behalf.

Do not attempt to do anything without the assistance of a qualified elder law/Medi-Cal attorney, because a mistake made that this point could cause a serious loss of property.

Please remember to mark what you believe to be the best answer to your question. This answer is provided by estate planning attorney Robert P. Bergman, with offices in San Jose, California. Mr. Bergman is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization), and has been practicing since 1980. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is only intended to provide general legal advice within the limits of the question asked. If you wish to create an attorney-client relationship for specific legal advice, it will be necessary to enter into an engagement for legal services. More general legal information about wills, living trusts, and estate planning can be found at Mr. Bergman's main website at, or his information website at Mr. Bergman also offers free living trust seminars and wealth preservation seminars at his offices in San Jose. For those unable to attend a live seminar, an online living trust seminar may be viewed or downloaded at


As Mr. Bergman mentions, the time frame may have already passed. Not only because selling or transfering the home would likely make your mother ineligible to continue welfare. However, states do typically create an exemption amount for basic post-life necessities, such as funeral costs and burial-cremation costs. So speak to an elder care attorney locally who would know CA laws on exemption amounts before the Estate Rule goes into affect, allowing a recoup of welfare monies.

Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC


Both attorneys offer comprehensive responses. Still you need to get with an elder law attorney BEOFRE any actions are taken that could impact benefits and taxes. Do not rely on a general forum; get a real expert to assist you.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is <> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


California is not exactly 'User-Friendly' in this regard. Your mom's home was originally counted as an Exempt Asset for purposes of determining her Eligibility. The state can require repayment for moneys paid out for your mother after she is deceased. I concur that it would be VERY wise to consult with a qualified Elder Law attorney right away before making a decision to make sure she doesn't lose her coverage. Good Luck!


As the other attorneys stated, the house and car are considered exempt, and thus will not affect Medi-Cal Eligibility. And as had been stated, if the house remains in your mother's name (even though in the Trust, which is considered to be your mother's alter-ego), then recovery can be made against this after your mother passes. However, there are some things that can be done. First, if you have been a caregiving child for 2 years prior to the MC application, there is an exception against recovery. However, the house can also be gifted directly to you, with an Occupancy Agreement allowing your mother to occupy the house for her lifetime; or gifted into an Irrevocable Trust, also retaining residency rights. Both options take the property out of your mother's name and will not be subject to recovery. You definitely should contact a qualified elder law attorney.

Wills and estates topics

Recommended articles about Wills and estates

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer