Will my stepmother be financially responsible for my dad's care once his insurance money runs out?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 84 year old father has had 2 strokes in March and is in a rehab facility in MA. He got married almost 5 years ago to a wonderful woman and their financial advisor/attorney is giving my step mother advice on what she will have to do when the insurance money runs out.  Is it true that when my dad's money runs out that her money that she has saved all of her life for her children will be used if my dad goes into a nursing home? The advisor is also saying he wants to see my dads bank statement for the past 5 years. Is there anything we can do so my step mother can keep her money?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Medicaid is the only government program that will pay for long-term care in a nursing home.

The bad news is that the Medicaid rules are extremely complex and confusing. The good news is that through proper planning your step-mother's assets can be protected if your father goes into a nursing home.

Unlike Medicare, for which there are no financial eligibility qualifications, Medicaid has strict financial eligibility requirements. The assets of both a husband and wife are considered in determining eligibility regardless of whether only one of them is going into a nursing home.

The spouse who is going into the nursing home is allowed to keep $2,000 of countable assets. The spouse, who is referred to in the law as the "community spouse" is permitted to keep a "community spouse resource allowance" of up to $104,400.

In addition, the community spouse may also own a home without it affecting the eligibility of the spouse entering the nursing home. When a person applies for Medicaid, the state looks at all of their financial records for the previous five years. Gifts made during that time can have a harmful effect on Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid planning is a very specialized area of the law. Most lawyers are not specifically knowledgeable in this area of the law. I strongly urge you to contact an Elder Law lawyer who is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys to help you. You can find a NAELA lawyer near you by going to www.naela.org.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Talking to a qualified ElderHealth Attorney is the best she can do. My spouse suffered a stroke 5 yrs ago and 3 attorney's later we are finally getting the best advice. We have filed several documents which separate our community property and if/when spouse goes to a qualified facility that medicaid will pay for, the remaining personal property (i.e., house) will be signed over to the other spouse to make him/her eligible for medicaid, which is allowed in this state.

Willswills13 answered...

yes and no