An appeals court in New Jersey recently reaffirmed the state’s regulation that allows older adults to transfer their homes to adult caregiver children without Medicaid penalty, reports an article titled “Major Victory for Adults Who Provide Home Care for Parents” from The National Law Review. The regulation permits the home to be transferred with no Medicaid penalty, when the adult child has provided care to the parent for a period of two years. This allows the parents to remain at home under the care of their children, delaying the need to enter a long-term care facility.
Virginia has a similar rule.
New Jersey Medicaid has tried to narrow this rule for many years, claiming that the regulation only applies to caregivers who did not work outside of the home. This decision, along with other cases, recognizes that caregivers qualify if they meet the requirements of the regulation, regardless of whether they work outside of the home.
The court held that the language of the regulations requires only that:
- The adult child must live with the parent for two years, prior to the parent moving into a nursing facility.
- The child provided special care that allowed the parent to live at home when the parent would otherwise need to move out of their own home and into a nursing care facility.
- The care provided by the adult child was more than personal support activities and was essential for the health and safety of the parent.
In the past, qualifying to transfer a home to an adult caregiver child was met by a huge obstacle: the caregiver was required to either provide all care to the parents or pay for any care from their own pockets. This argument has now been firmly rejected in the decision A.M. v. Monmouth County Board of Social Services.
The court held that there was nothing in the regulation requiring the child to be the only provider of care, and the question of who paid for additional care was completely irrelevant legally.
It is now clear that as long as the child personally provides essential care without which the parent would need to live in a nursing facility, then the fact that additional caregivers may be needed does not preclude the ability to transfer the home to the adult child.
The decision is a huge shift, and one that elder law estate planning attorneys have fought over for years, as there have been increasingly stricter interpretation of the rule by New Jersey Medicaid.
While Medicaid is a federal program, each state has the legal right to set its own eligibility requirements. This New Jersey Appellate Court decision is expected to have an influence over other states’ decisions in similar circumstances. Since every state is different, adult children should speak with an elder law estate planning attorney about how the law of their parent’s state of residence would apply if they were facing this situation.
Reference: The National Law Review (March 22, 2021) “Major Victory for Adults Who Provide Home Care for Parents”