Question: I moved in to care for my widowed mom three years ago. Her needs have progressed greatly, and we are now shopping for nursing homes. She has no money and owns her home. Is there a way to protect her house?

Answer: It sounds like your mother will qualify for MassHealth to pay for her nursing home. Typically, MassHealth will place a lien on her home to ensure repayment of the money spent for her care. Can the home be protected? Maybe.

MassHealth offers an incentive for children to move in with their parents and provide help. It makes sense, right? A declining senior’s time at home can be prolonged, with a child’s assistance. This saves MassHealth tons of money. As a reward to the child who moves in and provides care, the house can be gifted to him or her – free of MassHealth lien.

Qualifying for Home Gifting

There are standards and requirements. MassHealth needs:

1) birth or adoption certificate,

2) proof of residence at the parent’s home for at least two years, and

3) a doctor’s letter detailing the care provided and affirming the child’s care kept the parent out of a nursing home.

Proof of Residence

Proving you lived at your mother’s home will require I.D. such as a driver’s license or passport (showing you reside at her address). If you didn’t change your I.D., gather documents showing your name at her address, such as:

  • Tax returns,
  • Voter registration in her town,
  • Personal bills (ie: cell phone, utilities, etc), or
  • Amazon shipping records.

Witnesses can be used as a last resort. Aim for independent people such as home care workers and clergy vs. friends and relatives. MassHealth can be tough on this issue so gather your proof of residence and hire an elder lawyer to prepare her MassHealth application.

Read more about protecting assets for MassHealth.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.