Medicaid: Are you a caregiver?

With the ever-increasing cost of nursing home care, it becomes increasingly necessary for children to step-in as caregivers to help their parents with their daily lives, or just to avoid the loss of assets accumulated by their parents during their lifetime. Those unintended caregivers may provide assistance with daily living routines, medication management, and, sometimes, financial assistance to their parents.

Sometimes, in an effort to save their home from being taken for nursing home expenses, parents merely transfer the family home, a substantial asset in most estates, to the family caregiver. Does this protect the loss of the family home? Not necessarily due to the five year look back period.

There is a caregiver exemption that could potentially prevent the loss of the family home even if the real estate is transferred during that five year look back period. Have you heard of it?

No? Let me explain. If you, as the caregiver, reside in the home for at least two years prior to your parent(s) entering a nursing home, and, by living there and assisting your parent(s), it kept your parent(s) from having to enter a nursing home earlier than they did - then you should consider applying for the exemption.

There are certain criteria that must be met...and documented. Do you have proof that you resided with your parents for those years? Do you have a letter, on their letterhead, from your parent(s) primary physician(s) that details the care you provided, how long the care has been provided, and that your caregiving prevented your parent(s) from having to enter into a nursing home sooner? Even with the documentation in place, it does not stop the Department of Human Services from reviewing any transfer of real estate to a child during the five year look back period. There are other criteria that must be met, but this gives you an idea of what the DHS is looking for.

There is more to this exemption process, but you should know that it exists.