Understanding the Rights of Married Persons When One Spouse is in a Nursing Home

It is a common misconception that if one spouse goes into the nursing home, the remaining spouse will be required to use all of the family income and assets to pay for the nursing home care. This is not true.

The Federal Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 contained provisions to protect the spouse of a person in a Nursing Home. The spouse at home is known as the “Community Spouse.” The assets and money protected, at a minimum, include:

  1. ALL INCOME in the name of the Community Spouse.
  2. A RESIDENCE if the equity is less than $560,000.
  3. ONE CAR of any value.
  4. ALL HOUSEHOLD GOODS.
  5. Certain RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS if in the name of the Community Spouse.
  6. ONE-HALF (1/2) of the couple’s non-exempt assets up to $120,900.

The foregoing is just an outline of the basic rules. The reality is that a knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney CAN PROTECT up to 100% of the value of a couple’s assets when one spouse goes into a Nursing Home. Significant restructuring of assets is required, but a Community Spouse can have an unlimited amount of assets so long as they are held in compliance with Medicaid Rules.

Additionally, the necessary restructuring can be implemented even after the first spouse enters the Nursing Home. It must be recognized that the Medicaid Rules are complex and ever-changing and that the facts and circumstances of each case are different. However, one fact does not change—there is no limit to the amount of assets that a Community Spouse can have if the ownership is properly structured.

For more information contact YODER & KRAUS, PC at 260-347-9400 or 1-800-545-6453 or www.yoderkraus.com.