Louisville, KY asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Wisconsin

Q: My mother-in-law (age 75) would like to pay off her daughter's mortgage ($110K). Loan vs Gift?

My sister-in-law collects SSI for a special needs son. If she is given the money, it will disqualify her for SSI. My mother-in-law has suggested a low or no interest loan that would be forgiven in her will. They live in Wisconsin. What are the legal issues that need to be considered.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Howell, MI

A: This is FAR too complex a question for anyone to provide real advice in a forum like this. You NEED to consult with a local elder law / estate planning attorney and provide an opportunity to review all documents and discuss ALL of the situation. There are gift tax implications for a no-interest "loan" as well, and in many situations there will be a mechanism to 'pierce' an artifice which will make such attempts ineffective.

Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Pay a local attorney for real advice.

-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.

I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice

Daniel J. Krause
Daniel J. Krause
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Madison, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: This is a very interesting question. Because a person's home does not count against their eligibility for SSI, your mother-in-law might be able to give her daughter a home, or pay the mortgage. Though it would take a bit more looking into, the gift of mortgage money seems like a safe gift. For a person on SSI, if they receive a lot of money, they need to spend it on legitimate expenses within the same month they received it. If it is spent on a mortgage, the SSI eligibility would not be affected.

A related issue is whether the home could be taken after the death of the daughter in order to repay the benefits received through Medicaid or SSI. Because there is a danger here, perhaps the mother can buy the house from the daughter and rent it back to her. The rent could be very low or nothing. The house would then be protected from estate recovery after the death of the daughter or the SSI recipient.

** Disclaimer : Because you are not my client, any answer given to questions is hypothetical, and you cannot rely on them for your specific situation. Answering this hypothetical question does not create an attorney-client relationship, unless we later agree to enter into such a relationship. I would need to know a lot more about your situation before I could answer with any degree of certainty.**

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