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What happens to your home if you need Medicaid?

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My mother is gone, and my dad is 91. He needs long-term care but can't afford it, so I think he has to go on Medicaid. He owns a home worth about $220,000 and only gets Social Security. The only other asset he has is my mom's jewelry, which we think is worth close to $100,000. Does that count for Medicaid assets? What do we do?

Will your dad be staying at home or moving into a facility for long-term care services?  If he intends to stay home, he can keep the house and qualify for Medicaid.  If he intends to move into a facility more information would be needed, typically only one primary residence is allowed, there are exceptions. In most cases the facility would become his primary residence and the home would have to be sold and funds spent down.

Personal possessions, such as clothing, furniture, and jewelry are typically a  “noncountable asset” that means in most cases it would not be used to determine Medicaid eligibility. You stated the jewelry is worth close to $100,000 there may be exceptions to valuable jewelry under Medicaid rules dependent on which state you reside. 

Was the jewelry appraised? Are there public records of the value?   Do you intend to sell it?  The NJ Medicaid application does not ask you to disclose jewelry or the value of it.  However, the Medicaid application does ask you to disclose cash on hand.  If the jewelry is sold or transferred for less than the value, there could be consequences.  These consequences may include spending the cash down on her care, a penalty period assessed by Medicaid or even a denial.  

This is a tough decision, If you are uncertain what to do and need further guidance, reach out to an Elder Law Attorney.

Please feel free to give us a call at (973) 325-7500to discuss your personal situation