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If an elderly parent wants to add their daughter/caregiver to the title of the house can they just call the county treasurer?

Spokane, WA |

My mother wants to add my name to her home to make sure that there is no problem after she passes. I am already named on the will as the only beneficiary because the rest of the family have already been provided for. When we asked her lawyer about this a couple years ago he said at some point we would want to add my name but not in the next 5 years because of medicare and long term care.? i did not understand because we both made it clear she would never end up in a nursing home. I am her only caregiver. I do not get paid by an outside party and never have. We are living off of her retirement and social security We also raise my daughter together. She said she just wants to call the tax person. I thought this was something that had to be done by a lawyer.

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You are right, as are my colleagues. This kind of planning needs to be done through a lawyer. There are many options, but all of them involve some kind of deed. For various reasons, it is best if that deed does not take effect until your mother's date of death. The lawyer will know how best to accomplish this. This should not be an expensive service.

As for the 5 years, you misunderstood the lawyer's advice. The 5 years refers to a "look back" period that Medicaid imposes. Medicaid is a welfare program. The house is considered an exempt asset for qualification, but it cannot be given away. When/if your mother applies for Medicaid, they will look back over the previous 5 years to determine if there were any gifts during that time. If there were, then your mother would not be eligible for Medicaid for a period of time.

If she is never going to require long term care, then it makes much less difference, in terms of timing. For tax reasons, however, it is still best of the transfer does not take effect until your mother's date of death.

James Frederick

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Your mother's lawyer should advise her on the best means of leaving the house to you, perhaps via a deed. This is not something that can be done through the country treasurer. Note that there are several options available to accomplish this, all with an eye towards tax and potential creditor protection issues. You may wish to retain your own lawyer to compare notes with what your mother's lawyer is advising. With that said, ultimately, it is up to your mother to decide what to do. Good luck to you and your family.

This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


Calling the tax person is not going to accomplish anything. Real property is conveyed by deed. There are plenty of good reasons *not* to add your name to the title of the property right now, but the person in the best position to advise your mother is your mother's lawyer. They may have a different take on this situation. Elizabeth Powell

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