Will I Lose My Home?
Many people who apply for medical assistance benefits to pay for nursing home care ask this question. For many, the home constitutes much or most of their life savings. Often, it’s the only asset that a person has to pass on to his or her children.
Under the Medi-Cal regulations, the home is an exempt asset. This means that it is not taken into account when calculating eligibility for Medi-Cal. It is, however, exposed to the estate recovery process, unless it is held as joint tenants or placed in a living trust to avoid the probate court process.
Estate recovery does not take place until the recipient of the benefits dies. Then, federal law requires that states attempt to recover the benefits paid from assets the recipient owned in his or her name alone or jointly with another. If the recipient was married, the state will not seek recovery until the death of the other spouse.
The majority of California’s nursing home residents have their costs paid, in part, by Medi-Cal. Obviously, the estate recovery law affects many families.