This topic is an example of how it pays to have some knowledge of more than one area of the law, since it crosses several borders from one practice area to another.
It has become a fairly common tactic for elderly people to transfer ownership of their home or farm to their children, and to keep a life estate. In other words, the children are given a deed which gives them ownership but provides that as long as the parents live, they retain possession of the property. People do this because besides avoiding probate, they hope it may help keep the property away from the state in the event that the parents wind up in a nursing home receiving Medicaid.
I cannot state more strongly how in my experience this has almost always turned out to be a bad idea. There is a waiting period of several years before it helps with the Medicaid issue, and most folks never wind up on Medicaid anyhow. Meanwhile, this is a non-exempt asset which any creditor with a judgment may be able to attach. Or in the event that one of the children has a bankruptcy or divorce, this is an asset that gets all tied up in those processes.
Just for good measure, if one of the children has a problem with the IRS or the Department of Revenue, this creates a handy asset for the tax men to grab.
My advice to most older people who may be thinking about this: keep your home ownership, keep your dignity; the problems you are about to create may be much worse than the possible aniticpated problem you are trying to solve.