Are you worried about Medicaid taking your house if you use Medicaid benefits? Does the thought of not being able to leave your home to your children keep you up at night?
At Jarvis Law Office, we understand. Protecting seniors and those who love them is our priority. We have helped countless Ohio seniors protect what’s most important to them, and we can help you, too. Read on to discover a few strategies to keep Medicaid from taking your house in Ohio. Then contact our elder law firm at (740) 653-3450 for a free consultation.
When you use Medicaid benefits to pay for long-term care, the state will attempt to recover the costs of your care after your death. This process, known as estate recovery, can allow Medicaid to place a lien on your home. After your death, Medicaid may be able to recover the proceeds from the sale of your home to pay back your long-term care costs. Careful planning with a Medicaid attorney can help protect your house from estate recovery.
If your spouse resides in your home, you may not need to worry about Medicaid taking your house at the time you need care or even when you pass away. They would be considered a “community spouse,” enabling them to continue living in and maintaining homeownership after your death. However, the state would likely step in when your spouse either passes away or needs care themselves.
Unlike many states, Ohio Estate Recovery is not limited to assets being passed through the probate process. In Ohio, Medicaid Estate Recovery has been “expanded” to include assets that do not go through probate. The impact of this is that strategies that are effective at avoiding estate recovery in many other states are not effective in Ohio.
If you do not have a spouse who has continued living in the home, there are fewer options to protect your home from a Medicaid Spend Down or Estate Recovery. There are a few exceptions to this rule if a child has moved in with you and provided care to prevent you from needing nursing home care for two or more years immediately prior to your nursing home stay or if a sibling owns a portion of the home you reside in.
Your Medicaid planning attorney can help determine whether you can lawfully transfer your house to a family member.
Intent to Return Home
Your home may also be exempt from a Medicaid Spend Down if you plan to return home after a temporary nursing home stay. You can sign a sworn statement of your intent to return home.
With this statement, Medicaid would not consider your home a countable resource, and the state would not force you to sell it as long as there is a reasonable chance you will be able to return home.
However, you can only sign an intent to return home statement if you have a good chance of being able to return home. If a physician thinks you will need to live in a nursing facility for the rest of your life, you may be unable to use this strategy to save your house from Medicaid.
An Intent to Return Home does not protect your home from having a Medicaid Estate Recovery lien placed on it if you were to pass away while you still own the home and Medicaid has paid for a portion of your care costs.
Planning ahead is an essential step in protecting your home from Medicaid. A life estate used to be a good strategy for protecting your home and is still an option in some other states. However, when Ohio expanded its Estate Recovery rules, it offered one strategy you can implement many years before requiring Medicaid. This Medicaid planning tool is one of the simplest yet most effective strategies for protecting a home from estate recovery.
In a life state, two or more people jointly own a property for different periods. For example, you can set up the estate so that you have an ownership interest in the property for the rest of your life. The other owner you designate in the life estate will also have an ownership interest in the property, but they cannot take possession of it until you die.
Once you pass away and the house transfers to the other owner, the state will not be able to recover the property for Medicaid expenses. At this point, the new owner can make decisions about the property.
Purchasing a life estate can sometimes impact your Medicaid eligibility, as the state can see this activity and decide to count the home against your asset limit. However, you can usually avoid this penalty by creating a life estate at least five years before you need Medicaid.
You can also consider placing your home in a trust to protect it against estate recovery.
When you place your house in an irrevocable trust, you cannot change the terms of the trust. Consequently, the house must remain within the trust until the designated time, such as when you pass away. Additionally, although you can sell a house while it is within a trust, the proceeds from the sale must remain in the trust.
An irrevocable trust can prevent the state from placing a lien on your home or obtaining the proceeds of the house’s sale to pay for your Medicaid expenses. However, trusts can be complicated and require specific legal language to remain valid. Working with a Medicaid lawyer is essential to ensure that your trust achieves your goals for your home.
Contact a Qualified Ohio Medicaid Attorney
You have worked hard to acquire the assets and property you own. You shouldn’t need to give up that property to the state to pay for long-term care.
At the Jarvis Law Office, we have helped numerous clients throughout Ohio protect their homes and other assets from estate recovery while maintaining eligibility for Medicaid. We can develop a unique Medicaid planning strategy based on your specific needs.
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