My mom was just diagnosed with a type of dementia, and has cerebral degeneration and a sleep-disrupting disorder. She has never made a will or put much thought into it until now. Is she still legally able to sign a will even though she has been diagnosed with dementia?

Signing a will while having dementia does not automatically make a will invalid. In order for a will to be valid, the person signing must have “testamentary capacity,” which means they must understand the implications of what is being signed. Generally, your mother would be considered mentally competent to sign a will if the following… Read More »

My wife recently inherited a large estate. We have been married over 20 years. She recently filed for divorce. She says the money is separate property and she has placed it in a separate account. We have lots of joint debt and a home. Is she correct?

Great question. Inheritances are generally considered separate property. Sometimes separate property is considered when awarding alimony. For example, if she was otherwise entitled to alimony, the Judge should consider an inheritance to the extent that it could limit or eliminate the need for alimony. There are only limited circumstances in which a Judge would invade… Read More »

My brother was my father’s primary caregiver for more than five years. He lived with our father in our childhood home until Dad passed away and still lives there now, by himself. I have three other siblings who have been talking about selling Dad’s home and dividing the proceeds equally among the children. Does my brother, who cared for my dad and lives in the home, have any rights to stay in the house, or will he be subject to the majority desire of our siblings?

What can he do to avoid being “kicked to the curb”? It depends on how the house is owned. Sometimes parents will add a child’s name to the house by quit claim deed (not recommended for lots of reasons). If your brother’s name was added to the house, he owns it and has the right… Read More »

My wife was diagnosed with advanced dementia and her doctors are telling me that she needs 24/7 health care, probably in a nursing home. If she moves to a nursing home, will I lose my home and my life savings?

This is a very good question and we work with people every day who are worried about losing their life savings because of high long-term care costs.  First, make sure to look at all other options as far as where she is receiving care. For example, an assisted living community may be less costly and… Read More »

I have three teenage daughters. My 14-year old has a disability and she receives government benefits. I have heard about something called a “special needs trust” and was wondering if you can explain how it works.

This is a really important question and it’s good that you are asking about it early.  Good planning can make a huge difference in your daughter’s life, as well as helping your other children who may be left with the responsibility for caregiving (on top of their own careers and caring for their own families)…. Read More »

My mom recently entered a nursing home. We are trying to qualify her for Medicaid on our own. Should Mom and Dad deed the house to me?

NO! Don’t do it!  We regularly help families qualify for Medicaid without having to spend or give away all of their assets. There is a lot of confusion out there about what you can and can’t do – many families mean well but don’t understand the Medicaid rules. There is nothing worse than to see… Read More »

My mother died in a nursing home in late 2016 while receiving Medicaid. She owned nothing at her death except for her condominium, which my sister and I paid to upkeep while she was in the nursing home. She has an old Will leaving everything to my sister and me. The State of Michigan recently contacted me with a bill for her nursing home care. Can they make me pay the bill?

What you are referring to is called “estate recovery”.  Under Medicaid law, following the death of the Medicaid recipient, the State must attempt to recover money paid for the Medicaid recipient’s (in this case your mother’s) care.  So, the short answer is “yes”, under the estate recovery rules the State does have the right to… Read More »