Can a Nursing Home Take Your House in Massachusetts?

In the United States, Medicaid is a federal-state program that assists with medical costs for low-income individuals. In Massachusetts specifically, the Medicaid program is known as MassHealth. MassHealth may pay for nursing home care for eligible individuals. However, under the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program, the state can seek repayment for these costs from the individual’s estate upon their death, potentially including their house.

The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program in Massachusetts

Medicaid Estate Recovery is a federal policy that requires states, including Massachusetts, to seek reimbursement for the cost of Medicaid services from the estates of certain deceased beneficiaries. This program was established with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. The program applies to Medicaid beneficiaries who were 55 or older when they received Medicaid assistance, and for whom Medicaid paid for their long-term care services, such as nursing home care, home and community-based services, and related hospital and prescription drug services.

Recovering From the Estate

Upon the death of the Medicaid recipient, the state can make a claim against the individual’s estate for the Medicaid benefits paid on their behalf. This could potentially include their home if it is part of their estate. However, recovery can only occur after the death of the recipient’s spouse, and only if there is no surviving child under the age of 21 or a child who is permanently disabled. Some assets may be exempt from recovery, such as property that is considered “essential” to self-support, or assets that hold a certain level of sentimental value. There are also certain situations where recovery may be deferred, such as when there is a surviving spouse or a child who is under 21, blind, or disabled living in the home.

Transferring Ownership of Your House, Irrevocable Trusts & Life Estates

One common method to protect a house from being considered a countable asset is to transfer its ownership. However, this must be done carefully as incorrect transfers can lead to penalties. It is essential to consult with a legal professional before taking this step. In some cases, putting your home into an irrevocable trust might be a viable option to protect your home from being counted as an asset. Trusts have complex rules and must be set up carefully and correctly to work as intended. A life estate can be another potential solution. By creating a life estate, you are giving your home to your heirs while retaining the right to live there for the rest of your life. This, too, comes with potential complications and must be done well in advance of needing nursing home care.

Work with the Compassionate Attorneys at Casey Lundregan Burns to Protect Your House

The decisions related to protecting your house from Medicaid recovery require careful consideration. At Casey Lundregan Burns, P.C., we have over 80 years of experience helping families in Salem, Massachusetts, find their best way forward. Our team guides you through the decisions to prepare for your future and protect your assets. To learn more, contact us today to schedule your case evaluation online or contact us at (978) 878-3519. We can assist you every step of the way.