Bloomington, IN asked in Civil Rights, Health Care Law, Real Estate Law and Small Claims for Indiana

Q: Can Medicaid take my house? Or anyone else?

I am joint owner of a house in Indiana via a quit claim deed that states "joint tenants with rights of survivorship". The other joint owner who is my grandma is now in a nursing home and has severe dementia. My aunt took power of attorney over her healthcare and has filed a lawsuit against me in my grandma's name, so she can take the house or to try and force me to sell it and split the money with her saying it's to pay for the nursing home which I believe is a lie because my grandmother not only has Medicaid but gets a SSI check every month plus a retirement check. Anyway I know she used to. That should well pay for the nursing home I think. The court is trying to force me to sell the house. What are my legal grounds to stop this? What are the laws that work in my favor for this? Can I win this case since it's my house to and the deed says "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" please help I need legal advice.

1 Lawyer Answer
Michael R. Smith
Michael R. Smith
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: If the deed is to you and your grandmother as joint tenants with right to survivorship, you own half of the property (the house and lot) and your grandmother owns half of the property. That's called an undivided interest because each of you has equal rights to the entire property. Indiana law gives each of the joint tenants a right to ask a court to "partition" the property, which is apparently what your aunt has done on behalf of your grandmother. After the lawsuit is filed, the court will order the parties to participate in mediation in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. If that fails, the court can order the property to be sold, with the proceeds applied to any mortgage, back taxes, etc., and the rest of the proceeds being divided among the parties.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume your aunt is lying about your grandmother needing the money to pay for a nursing home. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if her one-half ownership of the property is prohibiting her from qualifying for Medicaid. If so, she may need to sell the property and "spend down" the proceeds of the sale before Medicaid will pay for a nursing home. Rather than spending a lot of time, effort, and money fighting with your aunt, I'd encourage you to talk to her about seeing an elder law attorney to see if there are ways to preserve some of your grandmother's assets so she doesn't have to spend it all down to qualify for Medicaid. Of course, I can't say what your aunt's true motives are. I'm just encouraging you to see if there are ways you can work with her rather than fight her, if you haven't already done so. Unless there are other facts that you didn't mention, I don't see you winning an attempt to keep the house for yourself by fighting the partition action. Other attorneys may see it differently.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.