Is it legally safe to combine my money with my wifes for her Alzheimer's care?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My wife and I married 11 years ago. She now has Alzheimer's and I handle all her monies, stocks etc. As husband and wife it it legal to use her monies with mine to pay all of our medical expenses. Her daughter is afraid I'll use only her mothers monies for her expenses. right now we combine out monies.. we have separate checking accounts but I write all her checks as needed. Am I legally safe doing that?


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.

Depending on which state you live in, there are different names for your property. Any property that was yours prior to the marriage is called "separate" in a community property state and "non-marital" in an equitable distribution state. (Most states are the latter.) The same applies to your wife's property. Any property acquired during the marriage is called "community" in a community property state and "marital" in an equitable distribution state. If you use separate or non-marital property for your spouse, it is then considered community or marital property. There is no legal requirement that you use your money, your wife's money or your joint money to pay for your wife's expenses. Since you are using your wife's checking account, I assume you have power of attorney. The issue of "whose money is it?" will come into play when either of you pass away.