At Weaver Loveless Law, we are commonly asked, “If I apply for Florida Medicaid, will the State take my home?” Short answer: “No.”
Medicaid is a federal program run by individual states. In Florida, the Department of Children and Families administers the application and continuing eligibility for the Institutional Care Program (“ICP”) or Nursing home Medicaid. One misconception is that if you or a loved one applies for Medicaid, the State of Florida will seize your home.
Florida is not one of the states that put liens on primary residences of Medicaid applicants. The only time a Florida Medicaid lien will be involved is during probate administration after your death.
Below, we provide information regarding Medicaid and home ownership in Florida:
Exempt Assets When Applying for Medicaid in Florida
When you apply for Medicaid in Florida, certain assets are exempt from qualifications.
Exempt assets include:
- Specific retirement accounts
- Business or trade property
- Irrevocable burial contracts, as well as $2500 to cover burial expenses
- Life insurance
- One vehicle, with specific provisions for additional vehicles
- The homestead, with specific qualifications
The Homestead exemption in Medicaid Eligibility
Currently, an applicant’s primary residence with a home equity value of less than $595,000 is an exempt asset for Medicaid eligibility. A primary residence can be a single-family residence, a townhome, or even a mobile home if the applicant is an owner. Any additional parcels of real property in Florida or elsewhere, even a vacant lot, is a countable asset.
The primary residence may be owned jointly by a spouse or with someone else. If the applicant is an owner of a primary home meeting the criteria, Medicaid will ignore that resource. They will therefor not place a lien on your home during the application process.
Do not gift or transfer your primary residence or other real estate to someone for less than fair market value. This will result in a penalty.
At the application phase, our office assists you with your estate planning and avoiding probate. We will discuss your plans for your primary residence upon your death.
These estate planning strategies will:
- Eliminate the need for probate upon your passing
- Address cash and retirement assets
- Establish beneficiary designations
After you Qualify for Medicaid
Once you or your loved one is eligible for Medicaid, that primary residence will be ignored each annual review while you still own and live in the home. If you sell, transfer, or gift your home while eligible for Medicaid, there are strict rules that must be followed to prevent exceeding the resource limit.
The sales proceeds, transfer value, or gift value will turn an otherwise exempt resource into an available resource for Medicaid. Consult with an elder law attorney immediately to verify that the strategies used will continue eligibility for you or your loved one.
Florida Medicaid Estate Recovery Program
If a probate is opened after you pass, Medicaid will file a Statement of Claim in your probate. This is done through the Florida Estate Recovery Program and the Agency for Healthcare Administration.
This Statement of Claim will be the total of all the care Medicaid has paid for on your behalf. These claims can sometimes be hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your probate only consists of your primary residence and the probate judge determines it is homestead protected, Medicaid cannot force a sale.
If your primary residence is not determined to be your homestead, then the estate will likely need to sell the home. The proceeds of this sale will be used to pay Medicaid. If your probate consists of cash accounts, these assets will be available for payment of a Medicaid lien.
Cash accounts include:
- Checking accounts
- Savings accounts
- Certificates of deposits
- Retirement accounts
What You Can Do
It is important to discuss your situation with an elder law attorney to avoid probate and to consider Medicaid recovery. Do you want to discuss your Medicaid or asset protection for you or a loved one? Get in touch with our compassionate and knowledgeable professionals at Weaver Loveless Law. We can discuss all of your options so you can make informed decisions.
Call our office at (863) 657-0770 to schedule a free elder law consultation and we will take the time to review your situation.