Dad has cancer and 50k medical debt. If worst case occurs, how can we prevent having to sell his house?

Hi all,


  • Dad has advanced lung cancer. He’s on medi-cal.
  • He has 40k medical debt, maybe will increase as we continue treatment
  • House is worth 450k (still paying mortgage, ~160k left). Under dad’s and mom’s name.
  • He has no other meaningful assets within the country. (does it matter he has like 50k cash in his native country? Is for supporting mom)
  • Mom lives outside of the country and will not be returning at all due to chronic health issues of her own
  • In the worst-case scenario, how do we avoid having to sell the house? Quitclaim to me?
  • me: just started my career and have 1.5k/month after all expenses.
  • We’re in California

Full context:

We’re in California and my dad has advanced stage lung cancer. Doctor estimates he has 2 years. The hospital where he got pre-chemo treatments (diagnoses/genetic testing etc) doesn’t accept medi-cal and has forwarded us 40k in medical expenses. We’re at another hospital now which does accept medi-cal and are working with the former hospital to see what can be done. So far, their finance department is never available/they are not helpful.

We’ll be drafting a will and estate stuff if treatment starts being ineffective, but I’m wondering if there is a way to prevent us from having to sell the house if the worst case occurs?

The house is worth 450k and has about ~150k mortgage left. It’s owned by mom and dad except she hasn’t lived in it for the past 6 years (she lives abroad) and will not be returning (chronic health issues. complicated story). I believe that disqualifies it from being protected under estate laws, since it isn’t the spouse’s primary place of residence. Currently, my dad and I reside in it. Can they both quitclaim it to me?

Also, he has ~50k abroad in his native country which is to support mom’s health expenses (dad is a US permanent resident). We already have a will regarding inheritance in that country. Will US creditors know about that asset?

Thanks for all your insight. And, small psa, if you smoke or used to smoke, please consider annual lung cancer screenings past the age of 55. Often, symptoms (ie persistent cough) don’t show until stage iv.

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