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A Mom Without a Home?

Mary called with the following story.  Mom had sold her home in New Jersey 8 years ago.  The plan was for Mom to live with Mary in New York.  However, her health deteriorated rapidly and she never moved in with Mary, instead living in an assisted living facility in New York.  Mom used the proceeds of the sale to pay her expenses but now the money is gone and Mary has been told her mom isn’t eligible for Medicaid in New York because she doesn’t live there.  She called us to see if Mom could get Medicaid in New Jersey but, again she doesn’t live here either.  So, what really happened here?

 In New York residing in an assisted living facility doesn’t establish residency for Medicaid purposes.  However,   Mom hasn’t lived in New Jersey since 2003.  She’d have to move back here to qualify.  Moving directly to a nursing home would work but Mary said it’s difficult to make a move now and she want Mom near to her, which I certainly can understand.  So, New Jersey appears out.

 Let’s go back to New York.  If Mom lived even one day with Mary she’d satisfy the residency requirement.  Alternatively, if she had at any point entered a facility for rehabilitation she’d qualify that way.  Mary needs to go back over the past 8 years and determine if either of these scenarios has occurred.  If so then she’ll be able to get New York Medicaid.  Of course, I am presuming that no transfers for less than fair value have been made and a clear paper trail exists to prove that Mom’s money was spent entirely on Mom’s needs.  Since Mary was not at all familiar with these concepts it is entirely possible that a Medicaid penalty will result.  And, what if she can’t establish residency?  The options are not very appealing.

 And that’s the lesson to be learned.  Mary’s mistake occurred 8 years ago.  She had a plan, moving Mom in to live with Mary.  But, when that fell through she had no contingency plans.  She didn’t consider what would happen if Mom ran out of money.  Mary took for granted that the government would help out.  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  Better to plan ahead and get your “ducks lined up”.  Speak to someone who knows the rules and do it well before the money runs out because once the money is gone your options are drastically reduced, and in some cases eliminated altogether.