Articles

Estate Lawyer: What Happens to Your Assets if Your Spouse Needs Long-Term Care?

Do you know what could happen to your assets if your spouse ever needs to go into a long-term care facility? There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Medicaid asset and income requirements, which is dangerous because getting any one of those requirements wrong can lead to a denial of Medicaid benefits. One of the more common misconceptions I see as an estate lawyer is about spousal income limits when a spouse enters a nursing home for long-term care. Medicaid eligibility rules differ for applicants and their spouses, which complicates the issue further, but does provide some good news; a healthy spouse does not have to give up all of their property, income, or assets if their spouse is entering a nursing home.

Let’s repeat that: spouses are not required to give up any of their income for Medicaid eligibility, and, in fact, may be entitled to a portion of their spouse’s income if they can present a need for financial support.

This extra income is determined by the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), which is determined by the annual inflation rate. The MMMNA amount is $2,155 until June 31, 2021. You should speak with a Pittsburgh estate lawyer who is experienced in Medicaid planning to determine how much of your spouse’s income you may keep if you qualify for the MMMNA.

Spouses may also keep a certain amount of their jointly held assets, which in 2021 will be one-half of the joint assets up to $130,380. This amount, called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), is also determined annually according to the rate of inflation. The healthy spouse may also keep their own vehicle, and either keep or buy a second vehicle to transport the spouse receiving Medicaid benefits, if applicable.

One of the biggest exemptions available to the spouse of a Medicaid recipient is the home. The home is not considered a countable asset by Medicaid as long as one spouse continues to live in the home while the other is receiving long-term care covered by Medicaid. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, which is why it’s important to speak with an experienced elder law attorney if you believe you may benefit from this situation.

For more information about Medicaid planning when your spouse is entering a nursing home, or if you or your spouse are considering applying for Medicaid coverage for long-term care issues, please give us a call to set up a consultation.