Protecting Your Home
Macri Law Group’s experience in residential and commercial real estate extends for our entire 45 years of practice and has proven invaluable in counseling our elder law clients in legally preserving/protecting/sheltering their homes. The most valuable and vulnerable asset many clients own is their home and their first concern when a spouse or loved one needs long-term care is to protect the home, typically to allow the well spouse to live there.
It is critical to preserving/protecting the home that the client plan before illness or, at minimum, consult a certified elder law attorney immediately when any signs of potential long-term care present themselves, since there is a five-year look-back/penalty period for transfer of real estate before eligibility for public benefits. However, a certified elder law attorney can use legal techniques to reduce the five-year penalty or exempt the transfer from any penalty.
There are traps and minefields related to protection of the residence that should be addressed only by an experienced real estate and certified elder law attorney. For example: A spouse moves to a long-term care assisted living or nursing facility. They apply for Medicaid public benefits to pay for care. They are advised that all spousal assets will be considered before Medicaid qualification, including the marital residence, but are assured by the Medicaid worker that they will not be forced to sell the residence provided the well spouse continues to live there. This statement is “half-true” but consider the following “Full” storm:
A. What if the well spouse becomes ill or disabled and also needs long-term care? The home is then no longer protected from forced sale and spend-down of the proceeds since it is not serving as the residence of either spouse.
B. What if the well spouse living in the home dies before the infirmed spouse? Under New Jersey law, the title to the home passes to the surviving spouse, the one in the nursing home. That spouse then is ineligible for Medicaid and will be forced to sell the home and spend down all of the sale proceeds before qualifying for Medicaid.
Who can foresee these circumstances and prevent these dire consequences? A certified elder law attorney versed in real estate has a legal solution to protect the home from forced medical spend-down under these two scenarios.
There are additional legal techniques to protect a second home, vacation home and even homes held for investment purposes.
These examples highlight the need for expert advice from a certified elder law attorney with real estate experience to achieve peace of mind that your home will not be subject to medical spend-down, leaving you impoverished.
Our real estate department is headed by Richard J. Lutz Jr., Esq., who has 30 years’ experience, with the able assistance of Pat Kropin, a real estate paralegal with 30 years’ experience at Macri Law Group. They provide real estate, title closing and title search expertise on a daily basis.
Contact our East Hanover lawyers for more information.