If you’ve been trying to research Medicaid eligibility rules for a loved one in need of nursing home care, odds are you have run across information relating to your loved one’s residence. When determining eligibility for Medicaid, an individual cannot have more than $2,000.00 worth of countable assets (note: more countable assets may be protected if there is a spouse at home). Countable assets do not include a Medicaid applicant’s home, so long as the home has no more than $500,000.00 worth of equity.
Although the value of the home is not considered in determining Medicaid eligibility, it is not necessarily protected once the Medicaid recipient passes away. In fact, unless the Medicaid recipient meets some fairly narrow exceptions, the State of North Carolina will perform Estate Recovery against the estate of the deceased Medicaid recipient. If the deceased Medicaid recipient’s home is included in his/her estate, and the State of North Carolina asserts a claim against the estate (based on the amount of money paid for medical services on behalf of the Medicaid recipient during his/her life), then the home will likely be sold to pay off the Medicaid claim. This is especially true considering the Medicaid claim is normally fairly substantial and there are typically no other assets in a deceased Medicaid recipient’s estate.
This does not have to be the result. With proper guidance from an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with the nuanced regulations proponed by Medicaid and the Department of Social Services, it may very well be feasible to protect a loved one’s home from Estate Recovery. This is true whether your loved one is already receiving Medicaid, as well as for those who are planning for the day their loved one must enter a facility and seek Medicaid benefits to assist with the astronomical costs of skilled nursing home care.