Medicaid Liens on Houses in South Carolina – What steps should be taken to protect them from Medicaid Recovery?

In South Carolina, there is no automatic “right of survivorship” in real estate.  So, make sure your deed is joint for your elder parents and also has the additional language necessary to create this right of survivorship.  Give us a call if you need your deed checked.  If we have the document, it will take less than five (5) minutes.  I read this post on a blog, and although I take a slight exception to the Medicaid Recovery possibility on a principle residence of a surviving spouse, it is worth a discussion and review by a qualified elder attorney.  The post I came across is as follows:

Q:  Father is in a nursing home with Medicaid paying. Mom is still at home. If my father dies and mom is still in the home, will Medicaid place a lien on the home?  Should we have a new will drawn up for my mother changing the beneficiary from my father to her children? Would the house then be hers when my father passes away, since they are co-owners, or would Medicaid be able to take all of the assets if sold, or would they only be able to take his half from the estate?

A: All good questions. In most cases when a house is co-owned, ownership will pass to the surviving owner when one passes away. So just in case your mother passes away before your father, the entire ownership of the house should be transferred to her in order to protect it from a Medicaid claim for reimbursement. As you suggest, your mother also would be well advised to update her will, either bypassing your father entirely or creating a trust for his benefit. What makes most sense depends on your parents’ circumstances and the laws in your state. I strongly recommend that you consult with a local elder law attorney to determine the best approach.

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