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Preserving Real Estate

Preserving Real Estate

For many Americans, their personal residence is one of their largest financial assets. Some farms and homesteads have been in families for generations. If there is a way to pass on real estate to children, grandchildren or others, most families would like to do this. We are often asked the questions: "Should I transfer ownership of my home into my child's name?" or "What can I do to make sure my home is not signed-over to the nursing home or government?" Again, a "cookie-cutter" answer does not suffice - it all depends on the financial circumstances and goals of a family. Keep in mind, under Pennsylvania law, before anyone inherits anything, the bills and debts of a decedent must be paid first. If a client has qualified for Medicaid, there will be a lien against the real estate, unless the real estate was transferred prior to the look-back window. For the majority of my clients (but not all), there comes a time when they either down-size from a larger home to a smaller home, condo or apartment, and sometimes transition from being a homeowner to a renter. If they are looking at entering a continuum of care community (transition from Independent Living at a Cottage or Apartment to Assisted Living (some meals and care within a nursing home setting, but the person is still able to walk, to skilled nursing care in which the person is not able to get out of bed and has 24/7 nursing care), there is normally an entrance fee and financial means test upon entering the community. Some places are nicer and are at the top-end of costs, while others are more moderately priced, but don't offer the same level of amenities and activities. Often, the sale of a primary residence is part of the financial calculation when entering a care community. For other families, the residential home asset is not needed to pay these expensive costs. In some instances, we either transfer the deed of the property to children, or add the names of other family members to the deed via Joint Tenants with the Right of Survivorship type of deed. In doing so, this preserves the house asset in the future care community financial analysis and calculation. In a word, it is complicated. Overall, our law firm's duty is to protect older clients and make sure they receive the best care they can possibility afford. We have strategies to preserve a family homestead for children and other beneficiaries, but this consideration is secondary to our first duty of protecting an older client. For more information, call Scott today for an appointment.

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