When you own a house, apartment or co-op, or even an igloo, it will affect your ability to access government benefits. Owning investment properties, foreign properties, and raw land will as well. Medicaid counts these as “available resources,” deeming that their value can be used to pay for your care. As long as these properties are in your name, with one exception described below, you will not have access to Medicaid.

You may have heard that your home is exempt. This is misleading. If you are residing in your own home, and need home care, and you are otherwise entitled to Medicaid, the value of your home will not count as a “resource” (until your home equity exceeds $828,000), and you can get Medicaid Home Care. But here’s the catch. If you sell or move out of your home for any reason, Medicaid will be entitled to recover the value of services they provided, from the equity in your home. If you still own the property at the time of your death, the equity in the home will be subject to Medicaid’s Estate Recovery (click here for more information). When you move out or sell the house, or at your passing, the entire value of the home could go to repay Medicaid.

Fortunately, Elder Law strategies that help to protect your financial assets, can be used to protect the value of your real estate as well. With a home or condominium or other real property, this process is relatively simple. See “House Sale/Transfer or Condo Sale/Transfer” for more information. With a co-op, there are additional issues. See “Co-op Sale/Transfer” for more information.