Hickman & Lowder Weblog

The Family Home: Is it in Jeopardy if I Turn to Medicaid for Help?

Thursday, 19 January 2012 11:44

cottage_houseMedicaid rules define the home is as “... any property in which an individual has an ownership interest in and which serves as the individual's principal place of residence. Home includes the structures and land appertaining to the home property.  Appertaining land must be contiguous to adjoin the land on which the home property is located and must not be separated by intervening land property owned by others.”  Thus, my home includes any property that is adjacent or even across the street.

The word “individual” in the definition includes my spouse if I’m married.  It does not include my trust so, strangely, if my home is titled to my trust it is not my home for Medicaid purposes.

If I am unmarried and living there, then the first $525,000 in my home’s equity is exempt for Medicaid eligibility purposes.  The exemption amount is unlimited if my child who is under age 21 or blind or disabled lives there or, if I’m married, my spouse lives at the home.

If I move to a nursing home and then qualify for Medicaid benefits, the home loses its exemption 13 months later unless any of the following still live there:

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Exercise Caution with Joint Accounts

Thursday, 08 December 2011 08:43

writing_checkEstablishing joint bank accounts can be a useful tool in many situations.  It allows husbands and wives to share an account and bank with ease.  It allows an adult child to help an aging parent manage the parent’s finances and pay bills, even if the adult child is not local.  A sibling can assist another sibling oversee his or her finances.  A joint account can avoid probate at the first owner’s death, and may even avoid the need for guardianship over finances, known in Ohio as a guardianship of estate, if the joint account is established before one of the owners is deemed incompetent.

But a joint bank account is not perfect.  While the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner at the death of the first spouse, what happens when the second spouse dies?  Unless a beneficiary is named, usually as a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death beneficiary, the joint account will be a probate asset at the second spouse’s death.

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"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"

Monday, 21 November 2011 11:45

old_coupleI don’t.  I hope I die before I feel too old, yes.  Readers of my generation may recognize The Who’s lyrics.  That one isn’t routinely piped into our downtown office building lobby.  Maybe it will serve as Muzak in our nursing homes in 2050.   But waiting for the elevator the other day, here in 2011, I did hear this one of Simon & Garfunkel’s:  “A good day ain’t got no rain.  A bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of things that might’ve been.”  (Yeah, I had thought it was “ain’t got no pain,” too.  But we’re in Northeast Ohio during the wettest year in several generations.  So what’s the difference.)

But this post is not just about us, the already careworn.  Still raising some family members while laying others to rest.  Or about all the elders out there in the rain.  My mind is actually on my offspring today, after a weekend filled with high-school plays and college applications and cast parties.  Here is a poem my eldest wrote:

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Mediation Services

Monday, 14 November 2011 10:24

handshakeAfter spending two days of advanced mediation training in San Diego last week, I was reminded once again of the importance of looking for alternative ways of resolving legal disputes.  Mediation allows a trained and impartial individual to assist the parties to identify key issues, review alternatives and search for workable solutions.  The process can save tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of emotional strain.  The experience of the mediator provides perspective, a sounding board and the hope of finding common ground when emotions are clouding good judgment.

Hickman & Lowder is developing a mediation practice for all types of disputes, especially disputes in probate court.  Our firm has an extensive probate practice, which includes representing families embroiled in guardianship contests, arguments over wills and other intensely emotional conflicts.   Through mediation, we are able to assist people who wish to avoid complex, expensive and damaging court proceedings.  Hickman & Lowder is currently on the Probate Court referral lists in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties.

- Posted by Frank Hickman

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