‘Caretaker child’ may be able to stay in family home if parent is admitted to a nursing facility

By Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq.
Legal Legacy Planning, LLC

MYTH: My child has moved into my home to help me, but if I have go to a nursing home, they will get kicked out.

This could be a myth under certain circumstances.
It is not uncommon today for adult children to move into their parents’ home to give an extra hand with cleaning, maintenance, cooking, and general care for the parent. An extra set of hands helping out can often mean that the parent can stay in their home and age in place for longer than if they were living alone. However, at some point the parent’s needs may become too much for the average person lacking a medical background, and the parents needs to go to a nursing home. What happens then?
If the parent is admitted to a nursing home for long-term care, then the usual next step is for the family to figure out how to pay for this care. Most people try to get their family members qualified for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. As a part of the eligibility process, Medicaid will review if you own real estate. For a married couple, the spouse who does not need long -erm care can stay in the home and the home will not be counted up to a value of $1,071,000. For as single person, the house is potentially a countable asset.
There is a Medicaid regulation that may allow for the home not to be counted toward Medicaid eligibility under certain circumstances where the child moved into the home prior to the parent needing nursing home care. If the child moved into the parent’s home at least two years before the parent needed nursing home care, the child may count as a “caretaker child.” A doctor’s letter is needed to verify that the child provided a level of care that kept the parent out of the nursing home during that period. An affidavit will also need to be completed to document the care that was provided. The child will also need to legally document that the parent’s home is their legal residence. If these circumstances are met, it is possible that the house can be considered a non-countable asset.
As always, it is a very good idea to consult with an elder law attorney if you think your family’s circumstances may qualify for the “caretaker child” exception.

About the Author: Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq. is an attorney at Legacy Legal Planning, LLC, in Norwell. She has been practicing estate planning, probate, and elder law on the South Shore for more than a decade. If this article has sparked questions for you, please feel free to reach out via phone 781-971-5900 or email elizabeth@legacylegalplanning.com to schedule a time to discuss your unique situation.