Under Federal law, LGBTQIA+ couples are able to become legally married everywhere in the United States. Married couples of every kind enjoy equal protections and responsibilities, and government agencies are required to treat all married individuals equally regardless of gender or sexual identity. Lamson & Cutner has always been proud to assist everyone in our community. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and fairness, and we work to achieve this with every person who walks through our doors.
Financial Protection For Married LGBTQIA+ Couples
You’ll find details on asset protection strategies available to married couples by clicking these links:
Financial Hurdles Unmarried LGBTQIA+ Couples Encounter
As with all unmarried couples, Medicaid will treat each member of an unmarried LGBTQIA+ relationship as a single individual. In 2022, a single person will not qualify for benefits if the value of his or her assets exceeds $16,800. Any financial resources beyond this threshold will have to be spent before eligibility for Medicaid can be established.
If an LGBTQIA+ couple is not legally married, when one member becomes sick or disabled, the partnership can be financially ruined by the same health care expenses that impact any unmarried couple. In a situation in which home or nursing facility care may be required, the ramifications can be quite severe. That’s because Medicaid will insist that the ill or infirm individual’s assets be almost completely “spent down,” before any benefits at all are paid.
If the “ill partner” who needs long-term care has significantly more assets than the “well partner,” the ill partner may trigger a penalty for transferring assets to the well partner. But if a transfer is not made, assets that would normally have been preserved for the well partner’s maintenance could be completely depleted by paying for care. With serious illness or disability, impoverishment can strike even affluent couples.
Rates for either home or nursing facility care in New York are extraordinarily high. They can quickly consume existing monetary resources. In addition, in some circumstances, Medicaid can assert a lien against the Medicaid recipient’s home in order to recover the cost of the benefits it provides. Often, these realities rapidly create emergency financial circumstances when significant infirmity is involved.
Beyond the partnership itself, economic situations of this nature present a special problem for unmarried LGBTQIA+ couples who have children. How do you go about protecting a child’s future when facing economic calamity?
Lamson & Cutner’s attorneys have effective solutions that can prevent these unfortunate results. With advance planning, each person can retain the benefit of the money, income and assets it has taken a lifetime to accumulate.
Hurdles and Solutions for Married LGBTQIA+ Couples
If you are married, and one spouse needs home care, both spouses can face financial ruin if they do not plan. Even if the “well spouse” retains the maximum level of assets allowed by Medicaid ($137,400 in 2022), this might not cover even one year of long-term care if it is needed in the future. Fortunately, there is a specific sequence of asset protection planning steps that is effective in guarding your money, income and assets from Medicaid “spend down” regulations. You can learn more about them by clicking here.
If your spouse or you need to enter a nursing facility, there are specific methods to preserve at least a significant portion of vital financial resources. That means funds can be available to make the nursing home resident’s stay as pleasant as possible, and to maintain the integrity of the well partner’s lifestyle and personal dignity. Learn more here about how to minimize your financial risk if one spouse needs nursing home care.
Lamson & Cutner Successfully Represents Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community
Here’s an excellent example of how Lamson & Cutner addresses challenges of concern to LGBTQIA+ spouses, using precise and powerful strategies to safeguard finances and quality of life for each member of the marriage:
L & C assisted a man in his mid-40’s who was married to his partner, and who later became a quadriplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury. L & C assisted this couple with spousal planning strategies that allowed the disabled spouse to receive Medicaid benefits while he was in a nursing home following his injury. Part of L & C’s strategy involved making transfers of assets from the disabled spouse to the well spouse. Even though the transfers were within the “look back” period, they were exempt from any Medicaid penalty because the couple was legally married. As a result, the disabled spouse’s care was covered by Medicaid, and the couple’s assets were preserved.
NOTE: Well spouses should be aware that under some circumstances, they may become subject to a claim for contribution by Medicaid for the amount spent by Medicaid to care for the ill spouse. In such circumstances, additional planning steps are needed.
For a more complete explanation of how Elder Law techniques can help protect your money, home, lifestyle and dignity, visit our Medicaid and Long-Term Care Planning page.