Ask The Expert: My wife's mother lives with us in our home and pays a portion of the household bills. This year, she also paid half of the real estate taxes on the home. Will any of these payments affect her Medicaid eligibility?

posted by: Ben A. Neiburger Elder Law Attorney

Keep in mind that in many states, and transfer of money or services between family members is deemed to be a gift for medicaid purposes unless there is an provable oral agreement or a written agreement otherwise. Accordingly, the State Medicaid agency will be looking at those expenditures keeping this general principal in mind.
To get an appropriate answer to your question, you will need to talk with an Elder Law attorney in your State who is familiar with your State's Medicaid rules. Typically, for purposes of Medicaid eligibility, the State Medicaid agency looks very closely at intra-family transfers of money. As I mentioned above, they try to characterize any transfers as gifts when they can, so they can later deny Medicaid eligibility.  If you can show receipts or bills for each expenditure and show how that directly benefits mom, they will, most likely, say ok. However, each State treats these transfers very differently. Accordingly, local counsel will be the best one to answer the question of whether the transfers you have made could hurt your mother's future Medicaid eligibility.
On a going-forward basis, I would suggest entering into a WRITTEN lease with your mother that specifically addresses that her rent/room and board is one-half the utilities and property taxes. This way you can show value received and show the existences of an agreement that proves the transfers are not a gift. Better yet, you can enter into a personal care agreement with mom through which she can pay her room and board and both of you for providing her care.  These contracts are very specialized, so I highly advise you to go to a local elder law attorney to have one drafted up (I would advise that for the lease too). This may cost several thousand dollars to do, but it is generally worth it in the long run.

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Posted by:melody

6/24/2010 4:50:24 AM

I took care of my mother in -law for 3 years. she lived with until she died my husband's brother and sisters wanted to put her in a nursing home. she was not a very nice at times and often unbearable, but I did what i felt was best. She died holding my hand and I did love her, but now her children want me account for every single penny she spent or we spent in those 3 years, or my husband should give up his share of the money left. I feel we gave up our life to take her when they would not and could I charge them for my service during this time she lived with me. I am a senior in register nuring program. does this mean anything? Help me I'm tired of them harassing me. Oh yeah Their only aunt is also in my care she is 90 and and had her and my mother in-law for one year both at he same time. I get 1000.00 a month for rent only for each patient. My mother in-law is gone but I still have their aunt. What can I do?

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