Q: My father and I are joint tenants with rights of survivorship on a 2-family house. My father is 88 years old, and is not a well man. We went to a real estate lawyer and had the house put in my name.

If Dad goes into a nursing home, what is the lookback period for Medicaid? Would Medicaid be entitled to half of the equity in the property? Would I have to sell the house?

A: Under new federal rules, the Medicaid lookback period is five years from the date of transfer. In other words, if Medicaid has to pay for your father’s stay in a nursing home because your dad is broke, the government could reverse any transfer of wealth from your father to anyone for the previous five years, if they suspect him of trying to hide assets or he transferred assets that could have been used to pay for Medicaid costs.

Would you have to sell the property? Maybe. It’s also possible the government would put a lien against the property that would have to be satisfied when the property is sold or refinanced down the line.

For more details, talk to your real estate attorney or an estate attorney.

June 25, 2008.