As a husband, what financial steps should I take to protect both my wife, as she progresses through the steps of Alzheimer's, and myself?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 24, 2016
Jls asked...

As a husband, what financial steps should I take to both protect my wife as she progresses through the steps of Alzheimer's and myself?  I need to take to protect my finances as the treatment gets more expensive.


Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

Illnesses such as Alzheimer's that necessitate long term care can be devastating for a family's finances. The "healthy" spouse is faced with the prospect of high out-of-pocket expenses for medical and personal care for the ill spouse, while still paying for his own living expenses. It is frightening to see how quickly assets can be spent down.

Medicaid is the government program that pays for long term custodial care. Eligibility is based on medical and financial need. Each state has its own rules about how much a person can have in assets in order to qualify. It is usually $2,000 - $3,000. There are also rules for how much the "community spouse" can have, The amount ranges from $20,000 to a little over $100,000, depending on the state. These numbers do not include a personal residence, a car, personal property and a few other exceptions. Check with an eldercare advisor or your county Medicaid office to find out the rules for your state.

Some people choose to transfer assets out of their names by making gifts to a relative or a trust. With the new Medicaid rules, a penalty will be imposed for gifts made during the "look back period." This is the 3 to 5 years (depending on your state) prior to making an application for Medicaid. The penalty is calculated based on the amount of the transfer and the average monthly nursing home cost in your state. The penalty is the number of months you must pay out-of-pocket before Medicaid takes over.

As you can see, Medicaid planning can get complicated. It is important to work with a Medicaid-knowledgeable advisor to preserve as much of your assets as possible.


Community Answers

Brendalee answered...

Hello JLS, Two years ago I had to admit my aging mother into a nursing home at age 86. She is now in the late stages of dementia. Thanks to God, I came in contact with an 'advanced estate planner' that got my mother qualified for MediCal as we are in California. She did not have to 'spend down' to $2,000 as MediCal would have you believe you have to do--selling your home, spending your hard earned savings, etc, to pay for nursing home costs. Of course they do NOT want you to know the route I went is available to the middle class American. President Kennedy instituted an 'entitlement act' that qualifies not only the low class for MediCal, but the middle class. Now, all my mother pays is her social security check including AARP coming out of it, to the nursing home instead of the approximate $7,000 or more, monthly. There is a corporation also in southern Cal. that does this very same thing. Their website is nhscare.com which stands for Nursing Home Solutions. They can send you a free DVD explaining just what they can do to preserve your assets. They have been a God send for many that would have otherwise lost their homes, etc. If you are in another state, they may be able to direct you, I dont know. I hope I can help anyone in this position in life by saying what I have said. God bless!