Understanding how Medicaid rules work, will help families planning the next step of care.
For families of seniors who need but cannot afford long-term care, the idea of losing the family home is upsetting. To make the best possible decision, you need to understand the rules and how they apply to different care situations. Consider a widower who owns a home worth $220,000 and whose only income is Social Security. The only other assets he owns are his late wife’s jewelry valued at $100,000. Does he have to sell his wife’s jewelry and, as asked by nj.com, “What happens to your house with Medicaid?”
In this case, and in many other cases, the answer is based on whether the parent will be staying at home or moving into a facility for long term care services.
If he wants to stay at home, he should be able to keep the house and qualify for Medicaid. However, if he is going to move into a facility, more information would be needed to answer the question. The Medicaid program typically allows one primary residence, but there are exceptions. In most instances, the care facility would be his primary residence. As a result, his home would have to be sold and funds spent down.
Any personal items like clothing, furniture, and jewelry are typically a "non-countable asset.” In most cases, they wouldn’t be used to determine Medicaid eligibility. In this example, with the jewelry worth nearly $100,000, there may be exceptions to valuable jewelry under Medicaid rules based on the state where he resides.
Here’s an example of why it is so important to speak with an experienced elder law attorney who knows the particulars about Medicaid in your state. The family and their widowed father is considering whether or not to tell the wife’s jewelry. In New Jersey, a Medicaid applicant does not have to disclose jewelry or its value, but you do have to disclose cash on hand. Therefore, if he sold the jewelry, he would have to disclose the cash. If he sold the jewelry for less than the market value, it could put his application in jeopardy.
An experienced Medicaid and elder law attorney will be able to evaluate the scenarios and help the family, so that their aging father gets the care he needs, which is truly the most important thing of all.
Reference: nj.com (November 22, 2017) “What happens to your house with Medicaid?”