What happens when your spouse enters a nursing home?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2022 | Elder Law |

While, ideally, spouses live together, there may come a time when your partner’s physical and mental condition has progressed to a point where he or she is unable to continue daily life without assistance. At that point, moving into a nursing home may be the safest option for him or her.

Medicaid helps eligible individuals obtain nursing home care, but if you are in this situation but are not yourself relocating to the nursing home, you may worry about what will happen to your shared assets after the move.

Your house is safe

You may keep up to $128,420 in assets without disqualifying your spouse from receiving Medicaid benefits, considerably more than the limit for a non-married individual. Medicaid also looks at your spouse’s income and not yours when determining eligibility. As long as you live in your shared home, you generally keep it, regardless of the value. You also usually retain assets such as vehicles, household items and personal possessions. Your spouse may also have a qualified retirement plan and a preburial plan that does not exceed $10,000.

There is a caveat

Your house is generally safe as long as you are alive and residing in it. However, the Medicaid Recovery Program, which reimburses taxpayers for the costs of the nursing home services used in life by taking assets after the death of the individual who used the benefits, may confiscate it after the passing away of you and your spouse. It usually delays recovery until after the death of the spouse living at home.

Medicaid laws are complex, but there exist provisions to protect spouses from losing everything. In most cases, you do not have to fear losing everything after your spouse deceases. Planning may help make the path going forward smoother.

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