Mom enters nursing home; son to become homeless - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Mom enters nursing home; son to become homeless

picture by CREATIVE COMMONS picture by CREATIVE COMMONS

A devoted son may soon be homeless, all because his mother is in a nursing home and the state is taking her home to pay for it.

It's a story everyone with aging parents need to hear about, as it could be repeated many times in the years to come as Baby Boomers age.

Six Years Caring for Mom

Chris Williams is about to be evicted from his childhood home, where, for the past six years, he was his mother's caretaker.

But despite his best efforts to allow her to "age in place," his mother is now in a nursing home, after doctors determined she needed full-time nursing care.

As a result, her dedicated son may soon be homeless.

"I ordered a pizza on Wednesday evening and discovered the debit card had been canceled," Williams said.

The house was in his mother's name, after the death of his father a few years back.

The checking account and credit cards? You guessed it: Those were in her name, too. Her son had signing privileges on her checking account, but did not have an account of his own.  

He had quit his job when he moved in to take care of his mother.

And when Medicaid takes over, Williams said, "the state takes everything. I'm going to be homeless, I will be without a job because of the six-and-a-half years I spent taking care of Mom took up all my time."

Could Have Been Avoided

This could happen to many more dedicated Baby Boomers who are living with their elderly parents, giving up their own jobs to care for Mom or Dad.

If you have aging parents, there are ways of avoiding this -- but you have to think about it before the time comes.

Attorney Susan Dunn, who is now representing Williams, said "some of these arrangements could have been made by his father when he moved into the house. But at that time, nobody was thinking about that!"

Dunn says in hindsight:

  • Williams' parents should have transferred some assets to him when he first moved in six years ago.
  • He should have had a bank account in his name. No one caring for a parent should be using only their account.

But it's too late now.

While laws vary from state to state, transfers of a home must be made, in most states, five years before admission to a nursing home. This closed a loophole where wealthy families were going into Medicaid-supported nursing homes, while their children were still living in their expensive homes.

"Chris isn't a spouse," his attorney explained. "So the law doesn't protect him like it would protect a wife or husband, who cannot be kicked out if their spouse enters a nursing home."

If Williams were a husband, he would be allowed to keep the home.

But a child can keep the home only if he is legally disabled. Williams is not, and he may be out on the street in a few weeks. (Each state's law varies.  He is dealing with the State of Ohio).

May Be Granted Short Extension

An attorney with the court, which is now the legal guardian of his mother's finances, said they may be able to grant Williams an extension on moving out.

But he can't access her savings account or Social Security.

This is a lesson to everyone with aging parents: Make sure there's a plan in case they ever end up in a nursing home.

"I have only myself to blame," he said. "I was thinking with my heart and not my head."

As always, don't waste your money.

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Statement from Department of Medicaid

Ohio Medicaid never seizes homes; however, homes may be required to be placed for sale in order to become eligible for Medicaid coverage. For more information on this, check out the following fact sheet:http://medicaid.ohio.gov/Portals/0/Resources/Publications/Forms/ODM07400.pdf

Basically, as long as the Medicaid eligible individual (OR their spouse, minor child, or disabled child) resides in the home, the home is considered an exempt resource.

In circumstances when the home is not considered an exempt resource, the value of the property is counted and will most likely result in the individual being determined ineligible for Medicaid coverage due to excess resources. The individual does have the option of listing the property for sale.  See Ohio Administrative Code Rule 5160:1-3-05.1 (Medicaid: resource requirement).

According to the Ohio Administrative Code Rule 5160:1-3-05.13, paragraph (D)(2), there are additional relatives that can lead to an exemption. The OAC provides:

“…the home is not a countable resource if any of the following individuals are residing in the home:

(a) The individual's spouse; or

(b) The 

individual's child who is under age twenty-one, or blind or disabled as defined in Chapter 5160:1-3 of the Administrative Code; or

(c) The individual's child who is age sixty-five or older and is financially dependent upon the individual for housing. Verification of financial dependency in this situation is determined by comparing the aged child's countable income to the Ohio works first (OWF) payment standard defined in Chapter 5101:1-23-20 of the Administrative Code; or

(d) The individual's sibling who has a verified equity and ownership interest in the home and has resided in the home for at least one year immediately before the date the individual was admitted to the nursing facility.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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