Fear of losing home to Medicaid contributed to elder abuse case

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The Silver Life - Empty nest - how to find a new home

A California daughter and granddaughter’s fear of losing their home to Medicaid may have contributed to a severe case of elder abuse. If the pair had consulted with an elder law attorney, they might have figured out a way to get their mother the care she needed and also protect their house.

Amanda Havens was sentenced to 17 years in prison for elder abuse after her grandmother, Dorothy Havens, was found neglected, with bedsores and open wounds, in the home they shared. Amanda’s mother, Kathryn Havens, who also lived with Dorothy, is awaiting trial for second-degree murder. According to an article in the Record Searchlight, a local publication, Amanda and Kathryn knew Dorothy needed full-time care, but they did not apply for Medicaid on her behalf due to a fear that Medicaid would “take” the house.

It is a common misconception that the state will immediately take a Medicaid recipient’s home. Nursing home residents do not automatically have to sell their homes in order to qualify for Medicaid. In some states, the home will not be considered a countable asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes as long as the nursing home resident intends to return home; in other states, the nursing home resident must prove a likelihood of returning home. The state may place a lien on the home, which means that if the home is sold, the Medicaid recipient would have to pay back the state for the amount of the lien.

After a Medicaid recipient dies, the state may attempt to recover Medicaid payments from the recipient’s estate, which means the house would likely need to be sold. But there are things Medicaid recipients and their families can do to protect the home.

A Medicaid applicant can transfer the house to the following individuals and still be eligible for Medicaid:

  • The applicant’s spouse
  • A child who is under age 21 or who is blind or disabled
  • Into a trust for the sole benefit of a disabled individual under age 65 (even if the trust is for the benefit of the Medicaid applicant, under certain circumstances)
  • A sibling who has lived in the home during the year preceding the applicant’s institutionalization and who already holds an equity interest in the home
  • A “caretaker child,” who is defined as a child of the applicant who lived in the house for at least two years prior to the applicant’s institutionalization and who during that period provided care that allowed the applicant to avoid a nursing home stay.

In addition, with a little advance planning, there are other ways to protect a house. A life estate can let a Medicaid applicant continue to live in the home, but allows the property to pass outside of probate to the applicant’s beneficiaries. Certain trusts can also protect a house from estate recovery.

The moral is: Don’t let a fear of Medicaid prevent you from getting your loved one the care they need. While the thought of losing a home is scary, there are things you can do to protect the house. To find out the best solution for you, consult with an elder law attorney. To find one near you, go here: https://www.elderlawanswers.com/USA-elder-law-attorneys.

To read the Record Searchlight article about the case, click here.

SOURCEwww.legalbaer.com
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Leonard F. Baer
Leonard Baer's practice focuses on Elder Law, and Estate Planning. His previous experience was in the area of complex criminal litigation, serving as Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division for The United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Baer was recognized by the Office of The Attorney General, as one of the top prosecutors in the country during his tenure. He has been included in North Carolina Top Rated Lawyers, a distinction awarded to those lawyers recognized by their colleagues as leaders in their field. He has also been recognized by the Florida Bar, for his efforts in representing seniors and their families, who are victims of scams and fraud. Mr. Baer is an AV rated lawyer listed in Martindale-Hubbell, and has been selected for inclusion in their Bar Registrar of Preeminent Lawyers, which for over 90 years, includes only those select law practices that have earned their highest rating. He has been designated by Martindale-Hubbell as preeminent in his field, and in the top 5% of all lawyers practicing in the United States. Mr. Baer has also been ranked by AVVO, an online Legal Directory of over 200,000 lawyers nationally, as Superb, their highest rating. He served as adjunct professor of Sports Law at The University of Miami, and is a frequent lecturer on the topics of Elder Law, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Fraud Protection. He has been a columnist for several newspapers for over 13 years and currently has a nationally syndicated blog, “As I See It” with a readership of over 25,000.

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