Is there a way of protecting my assets if my husband has to go into a nursing home? - AgingCare.com

Is there a way of protecting my assets if my husband has to go into a nursing home?

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My 70 year old husband was diagnosed with Alzheimers a couple of years ago and going downhill fast. If I eventually have to put him in a nursing home, is there anyway to protect our assets from financial ruin. Our house is paid for and in both our names, our savings is in both our names, and he has an IRA in his name and I have one in my name. I am 10 years younger and depend on our money to carry me through the rest of my life and I don't want to have to spend all our savings on his care. I though about divorce but I would lose my health insurance and I still have 5 more years before Medicare. Is there anyway to protect my assets?

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As an elder law attorney, I have helped many hundreds of clients qualify for Medicaid while protecting their assets. The goal is to preserve as much as legally possible, similar to good tax planning. While there are benefits to starting early (because of the five-year lookback rule others have discussed), it is never too late to take advantage of the laws that permit you to convert assets from countable to non-countable (i.e., exempt).

Because this is such a complex subject, I wrote a series of ebooks that cover the different areas of interest, as well as a print book that summarizes both the laws and the planning opportunities (including a section on how to find an elder law attorney in your area). good luck with your situation!
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Talk to an attorney with expertise in this area. Medicaid has very strict look-back rules, going back 5 years I think. Also, if you get divorced and put most of the assets in your name, they will not accept that. I checked into this, because I am in a similar situation. If I put my husband in a nursing home, where will be the money to care for me when I need it? Home care is the same thing. It can cost more than a nursing home if you have it 24/7. This is a real dilemma. Please see an attorney. Maybe someone else can tell you the specific kind of attorney to see.
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Agree with everyone, go see an Elder Attorney ASAP. I am in a similar position, my husband is 20 years older than me. He has been in a Long Term Care Facility for over a year and prior to that received home based care all paid for by medicaid. I was able to keep the house, in both names, and my IRA but his IRA needed to be spent down. Although it is a federal program laws are different in each state. A good attorney can help you immensely. Act fast but with counsel.
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No offense, guys. But you know what would really help this person? In addition to being told 10 times to consult a lawyer, which is good advise, I'll bet it would help her to hear what YOU chose to do to protect your assets when you were in her position!
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We just went through this with my mom and dad. You need to see a lawyer specializing in elder care asap. They can help.
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Call a certified Elder Law attorney today! There is a 5 year look back for Medicaid and there are still some ways to protect more than half of your assets but you need to act sooner than later.
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Take a deep breath, form a support system to help you with care giving, and consult an eldercare attorney.
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I just went through this too. Same age difference. I am 71 husband is 80. I had to spend all my money on the house. You can't give a cent to your grandchildren if you hope to get on Medicaid. They did look back 5 years, but I heard it is going to 7 year look back soon. Start now.. See a lawyer and don't throw anything away....paperwork. The nursing home helped me do all the paperwork. It was so time consuming, worrisome and nerve-wracking. But I just had to trust in God to help me along. I have finally been approved after 5 months wait. The state of MD will pay for everything from now on. Of course I have nothing but my home, and car. No savings at all. Well a little in a Bank account that they let me keep. I can't apply for Medicaid for myself until 5 years now. But I am healthy. And I still have my own life insurance policy. I am beginning to get my life back in order. Bill has had AD for 11 years now and I was confined to the house with him for the last three years of his life here at home. He couldn't go out at all. It was pretty lonely! Please get a lawyer right away and start saving all your paperwork. Taxes, real estate taxes, bills, bank accounts (they will get that together for you) . You are allowed to pre-pay his and your funerals and count it as one of your expenses using up your money. It is a lengthy process.
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1Rarefind- Medicaid law states that the community spouse can keep all of their own individual assets and 1/2 of the jointly held assets up to about 119,000$.
The primary home and one car are also exempt. The institutionalized spouse can also deem money over to the community spouse up to around $2800 a month.

No one should be homeless due to Medicaid for a spouse.
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Britt38 and others, I'm sorry that the possibility that your family may not inherit the money from the sale of your house — or all of it — is so distressing to you. I'm sure you have wanted that and been comforted by the notion that you were leaving something to your family. And maybe you still will. First, I don't know what the rules are in your state when the house is in the sole name of the "well" spouse — it probably depends on when it was purchased and with whose money; a lawyer specializing in elder law can tell you for sure. Secondly, it may help you to know that IF Medicaid does take money from the sale of the they take ONLY that which Medicaid had provided in benefits. That is, if Medicaid paid out, for example, $100,000 in benefits to your husband and when you pass and your house is sold it is sold for $200,000, your heirs would still get $100,000. Medicaid doesn't "take the house"; Medicaid gets reimbursed for what it has already spent.

It may also help to understand the reason Medicaid has these sorts of rules. Another "rule" is that the recipient of Medicaid cannot give away their assets to family members (or anyone!) in order to become eligible for Medicaid. Even if that was not the motivation for the gifts, Medicaid will penalize recipients (by delaying the start of Medicaid payments) for such gifts given during the so-called "look back period" of five years prior to application for Medicaid.

The reason that Medicaid does this is that Medicaid is funded by taxes from me and you and everyone else that pays or has ever paid taxes in each state. Medicaid is intended as assistance to people who are genuinely impoverished — who CANNOT pay for their own care.

Most taxpayers (AND their elected representatives who establish the Medicaid funding in each state) are willing to provide this assistance to people in need — but they are equally NOT willing to pay to take care of Grandma so that Grandma can use her money to pay her grandson's tuition or buy her daughter a card. Similarly, they are not willing to ensure that Grandpa or their kids will get as much money from Grandma's estate as they would have if Grandma hadn't been on Medicaid for three years in a long term care facility.

One could argue that it would not be fair to the taxpayers of the state where my Mom is a patient if Medicaid did not recover the money that it had spent after my Dad died and no longer needed the house. The taxpayers only have agreed to take care of Mom's medical expenses because she could not; they haven't agreed that Mom's kids should pocket the money when their last remaining asset is sold.

Even if you don't agree with that argument, you might also keep in mind that every dollar that Medicaid recovers/recoups of what it spent is a dollar MORE that can be given to the next person (including you or one of us!) who needs it for care when they are helpless. Each recovery of the money that Medicaid provides when a person desperately needs that help will go back into the Medicaid fund to provide that same assistance to me or to others if and when we need it. And with our population living longer, more and more people are going to live longer than their own money lasts so, in my view, Medicaid is a program we really need to protect and save for the exclusive benefit of people who are in need of this medical care. I have two fervent prayers: one that I will never need the assistance of Medicaid and the second prayers is of thanksgiving that Medicaid will be there to pay for my long term medical care if I ever DO need it.
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