When a married couple is facing a health crisis for one spouse, there is a myriad of issues to sort through. What care will be needed? Where will care be provided? How will it be paid for?
Medicaid is a government program that pays for long term care. Oftentimes, the couple will utilize Medicaid for the spouse facing long term health care needs. There are rigid resource and income requirements to qualify for Medicaid and planning options available that are beyond the scope of this post, but have been discussed in other blog posts on this site, including http://www.perlalaw.com/medicaid-planning-with-annuities-for-married-couples/.
What I want to focus on in this post is what to do after Medicaid eligibility has been obtained.
After a spouse is approved for Medicaid, he must transfer all non-exempt resources beyond the $2,000 in non-exempt resources that he is permitted to keep, to the healthy spouse before the annual review takes place. If he has not done so in that time frame, then he will no longer financially qualify for Medicaid coverage.
Estate recovery is a state run program that seeks repayment of funds paid out by the state for long term care under Medicaid from a recipient’s estate after his death. When the spouse receiving Medicaid benefits dies, whatever assets are in his name at time of death are subject to a claim by the state of Ohio under the estate recovery program. Estate recovery cannot take place while the surviving spouse is alive. However, upon the healthy spouse’s death, the state of Ohio will pursue their claim from the healthy spouse’s estate.
This outcome can be avoided by promptly transferring the assets out of the Medicaid recipients name and into the healthy spouse’s name as soon as possible. Regrettably, it is all too common for a married couple to leave the home titled jointly rather than transferring it to the healthy spouse alone, causing an estate recovery claim on the home after the second spouses’ death.
The healthy spouse should also look into estate planning strategies with a Medicaid or elder law lawyer, who will engage in planning with the continued eligibility of the Medicaid recipient in mind. An estate planning attorney unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Medicaid will be unlikely to be up to speed on important Medicaid law essential to creating an estate plan for the healthy spouse. Hence, it is vital to hire an elder law or Medicaid planning lawyer to assist in the estate planning.
For more information on what married couples should do after Medicaid approval, contact a Cleveland Medicaid planning lawyer or Cleveland elder law lawyer.