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Can Mom Sell Her Home and Buy a New One Without Affecting Dad's Medicaid?

  • January 28th, 2016
My father has been in a nursing home since April. His Medicaid application was approved and Medicaid is paying for his stay. My mom, who lives in their home, gets to keep his check because she has no income and she cared for him at home for six years. Their home is in a rural area and my sister and I would like her to sell the home and move closer to us and the nursing home so she can visit him every day. My question is, can she sell their home and buy another home without messing up his Medicaid? And if so, how much after the sale and purchase of the new home is she allowed to keep, or how does that work? 

If the house is owned jointly, then half of the proceeds will go to your dad. This will likely make him ineligible for Medicaid until the funds are spent down. The other half of the proceeds would go to your mom, which she can use to purchase a house. Spouses are allowed to retain some assets — called a community spouse resource allowance — but the amount varies, depending on the state. In general, the community spouse may keep one-half of the couple's total "countable" assets up to a maximum of $119,220 (in 2016). The least that a state may allow a community spouse to retain is $23,844 (in 2016). For information on protections for the community spouse, click here.   (For the amount that your state allows community spouses to retain, go to Find an Attorney, click on your state, and then "Key Medicaid Information" for that state.)

This is complicated and the rules vary from state to state. We strongly recommend that you consult with an elder law attorney in your state to find out the best way to accomplish the sale. To find an attorney near you, click here.  

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

Mindy Felinton

Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Rockville, MD

John Laster

Law Offices of John L. Laster
Falls Church, VA

Margaret O'Reilly

Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Herndon, VA

Last Modified: 01/28/2016

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