Exempt Transfer of Home to a Caretaker Child

by David Kronenberg

A Great Incentive for Caring for Your Parent in the Family Home

Many of our clients and their adult children are concerned both with the escalating costs of long-term health care and the quality of the care. An adult child that becomes a caregiver for a parent is one way that families deal with these concerns. Accordingly, more and more adult children are moving back into the family home to live with and care for their parents. Pursuant to New York State Medicaid eligibility rules, there is a major incentive for living with and caring for your aging parents in the family home. The need for adult children to care for a parent may arise due to the parent’s progressive chronic illness such as dementia or as the result of a sudden event like a stroke or a fall. While serving a caregiver for a parent can be an extremely demanding and lonely role, New York State law provides an additional incentive for doing so—specifically, protecting the homestead.

Medicaid eligibility rules impose financial criteria but permit transfers of assets under certain circumstances. A primary residence or “homestead” may be transferred without penalty to a caretaker adult child. The regulations define a “homestead” as: the primary residence occupied by a medical assistance applicant/recipient and/or members of his/her family. Family members may include the applicant’s/recipient’s spouse, minor children, certified blind or certified disabled children, and other dependent relatives. The homestead includes the home, land, and integral parts such as garages and outbuildings. The homestead may be a condominium, cooperative apartment, or mobile home. A person will be eligible for Medicaid, including but not limited to nursing facility services, if the house is transferred to that person’s child who resided in the home for at least two years before the person was institutionalized and provided care to maintain the person at home (“caretaker child”). A child is presumed to be a “caretaker child” if she lived with the parent while the parent suffered from a chronic illness and can demonstrate that she provided care which allowed the individual to stay home instead of residing in an institution. A son or daughter can establish that he or she provided such care by submitting evidence that he or she made arrangements or actively participated in arranging for care, either directly or indirectly, full-time or part-time.

A family should consult with an experienced Elder Law Attorney like the attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin LLP to review whether a transfer of the home to a caretaker child is an appropriate option. There are many factors to consider when making this decision and there can be negative consequences if certain issues are overlooked. However, having knowledge of the option of the exempt transfer of the homestead to a caretaker child is a crucial first step.

To find out more about transferring a home to a caretaker child, please call our office at (212) 387-8400 or contact us online to set up a consultation today.

Article By David Kronenberg