Too Late to Help: Medicaid Lien Will Take Their House

I got a phone call today from a lady asking for help. Her father is about to be released from the hospital and had a heart condition and dementia. They plan to put him in a nursing home on his release and wanted legal advice about Medicaid.

Unfortunately, it is far too late to do any effective planning to protect their assets. They don’t have a great deal of assets and, actually, will qualify for Medicaid immediately. That’s not a problem at all.

What they didn’t realize was that, although their house was not counted in determining Medicaid eligibility, there will be a Medicaid lien against it. The state can’t take steps to collect on it until both of her parents pass away; but, eventually, the family will lose the house — their only real asset.

They are people of modest means. They probably assumed, like many people do, that estate planning is “for the rich.” Their house is worth about $80,000. It’s not exactly a mansion. But it is a property that could have stayed in the family for generations, if there had been a modicum of planning just five years ago. It breaks my heart there isn’t more I can do for them.

I wish I didn’t get as many calls from people in their situation as I do.

What Next?