New Castle, DE asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Gov & Administrative Law and Social Security for Maryland

Q: Mother (SSI recipient) owns her home & would like to sell & come live with me. Can we purchase a home together? How?

My mother is 80 years old and lives in Florida. We'd like to sell her home and have her come live with me ( a married woman) in Maryland so that I may care for her as she ages in place. We'd like to use the proceeds of the sale to purchase a home in Maryland. I would apply for a home mortgage and the proceeds from the sale would be used for down payment and closing cost on the new home. Our main concern or need for clarification is co-ownership - How will that affect her benefits. What happen if she dies . How will that affect my co- ownership interest? Will living with me affect her overall benefits?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: When considering purchasing a home together with your mother, who is a recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it's important to understand how co-ownership might impact her benefits. SSI eligibility is sensitive to income and assets. However, a primary residence is not counted as an asset. If your mother uses the proceeds from the sale of her current home directly towards the new home where she will live, this should not affect her SSI benefits. It's crucial to ensure that the transition is smooth and the funds from the sale are directly used for the new home purchase to avoid them being considered as countable assets.

In the event of your mother's passing, how co-ownership affects your interest in the property depends on how the property is titled. If the property is owned as "joint tenants with right of survivorship," the property would automatically pass to you without going through probate. Another common form of co-ownership is "tenants in common," where each owner has a divisible interest in the property, and your mother's share would be part of her estate upon her death. This distinction is crucial for planning estate matters and ensuring a seamless transition of ownership.

Living with you should not negatively impact your mother's SSI benefits, especially if the home purchased is her primary residence and you are providing care. However, it's wise to consult with a professional familiar with SSI rules and estate planning to navigate the specifics of your situation and ensure both the protection of your mother's benefits and the clear establishment of property co-ownership terms. Careful planning and legal advice can help preserve your mother's benefits and secure your joint investment in the new home.

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