Legal Question in Elder Law in Pennsylvania

My mother and I are joint owners of a house that we still own money on. My mother has been in a nursing home for the pass 5 years. If we sell the house is the money owned paid off first then I would get half and the nursing get half of the remaining money?

Asked on 6/10/13, 3:46 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Selling now may or may not be a good idea. Is your mother on Medicaid? There are limits in each state as to how much income per month a person can receive and still be eligible for Medicaid. If the home is sold now and it is owned free and clear, at least half the money would belong to your mother and if she is still alive, this would probably be enough to get her to lose the Medicaid. She would then have to pay for the nursing home out of pocket until she could qualify again.

Also, how exactly is the property titled? Look at the deed. Is it owned by just you and your mother or by you and your mother as "joint tenants with right of survivorship"? Those words are important. If the deed does not contain language about survivorship, then it means that you only own 1/2 the land and that the other half would pass through an estate for your mother. And if she owes money to Medicaid, Medicaid is by law mandated to seek recovery, which means that you would might have to sell the property.

If your mother is still alive and in relative good mental health, I would take her to an elder care attorney and pay him/her to review the deed and your mother's whole asset/income picture. I would not attempt to sell the home now until you discuss this with an elder law attorney to see how to best maximize your mother's Medicaid benefits/eligibility (if she is on it now) as well as the tax issue. There are also tax consequences if you sell now, i.e., there may be capital gains tax. I don't know if its an issue for you as much as it may be for your mother. She will not be rolling over the proceeds into another home and she may have acquired the home a long time ago when it was worth far less. In such case, she might have huge capital gains even if she gave half the house to you. I am not a tax attorney - but this is something which should be addressed too.

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Answered on 6/10/13, 8:41 pm

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