Q: A number of years ago my parents transferred title to their house to my sister and me with the understanding (not in writing) that they could continue to live there as long as they wished. They paid the real estate taxes, insurance, and upkeep.

Now my sister and I are approaching the age (we’re in our 60s) when we might face having to pay for our own nursing home care. Although my father died in 1988, my mother continues to live in the house.

What arrangements can we make to avoid having to sell the house to pay nursing home costs if my mother wants to continue to live in the home?

A: It’s funny how a small thing like transferring title to a property can have some wide-ranging complications down the line.

Since you and your sister are not married (to each other), it’s unlikely you would be forced to sell the home to pay back Medicaid, should either of you need it. However, Medicaid would put a lien on the property for your share or your sister’s share of the asset. When the property is sold down the line, the lien would be satisfied.

Your mother would be able to remain in the property as long as she/you can afford to pay the expenses and maintenance or as long as the arrangement is still working for all of you.

You should really speak to an elder care attorney or estate attorney who might have other ideas for you.

Jan. 19, 2009.