Many couples today enjoy living together outside of a traditional marital relationship. Yet as they become older, they still face challenges imposed by medical problems and the devastating impact of long-term health care costs. When professional assistance in the form of home or nursing facility care is required, Medicaid will insist that the ill or infirm partner’s money and assets be almost completely depleted before paying any benefits. A couple in these circumstances can easily be thrust into poverty.
How Unmarried Couples Can Gain Significant Financial Benefits with Elder Law Planning
Fortunately, Lamson & Cutner’s Elder Law attorneys have effective strategies to help unmarried couples navigate the Medicaid application process, and avoid an economic nightmare. Eligibility can be obtained for the individual who needs home care, or who’ll be a resident at a nursing home, and financial assets can be preserved.
If one partner needs home care, usually all of the assets and income can be shielded, which means the couple can maintain the dignity of their lifestyle. On the other hand, if that individual has to enter a nursing home, asset protection can shelter at least a significant portion of his or her funds. As a result, the financial capacity that is retained can make residency at the nursing facility as comfortable as possible, and the partner who remains at home can avoid financial devastation.
The Unmarried Couple’s Monetary Challenge
With an unmarried couple, Medicaid treats each member as a single individual. Under 2016 requirements, the person needing care will not be eligible for benefits if his or her assets are greater than $14,850. By law, anything above that amount has to be paid towards the cost of care, before Medicaid pays the first dollar of benefits.
This often creates an immediate and major economic problem for the couple, particularly if the partner who needs care is the principle wage earner or owns a substantial portion of their assets. Considering today’s ruinously high costs of either home or nursing facility care, virtually all cash, investments, and assets the ill or disabled partner has accumulated over a lifetime end up being rapidly dissipated. This can easily happen even with those starting from an otherwise comfortable financial position.
While Medicaid provides significant financial protection to the “community spouse” when the other partner is unwell and needs care, unfortunately these advantages are currently unavailable to unmarried persons.
A Solution to Untangle the Financial Knot
If you or your partner needs home care, you can learn more about Lamson & Cutner’s detailed, step-by step plan of action for protecting your money, income and assets here:
You can see L&C’s effective strategy to preserve financial resources in the event of entering a nursing home here:
To get a more comprehensive understanding of how Elder Law methods can help protect your finances, lifestyle and dignity, see Lamson & Cutner’s new Special Report, 25 Strategies to Prevent Financial Ruin from Long-Term Health Care Costs.