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Don’t Make These Costly Medicaid Mistakes When Your Spouse Enters a Nursing Home

When one spouse is entering a nursing home and the other spouse remains healthy, there are many costly mistakes you want to avoid. If the couple is not properly aware of their rights and protections allowed by Medicaid laws, they may quickly deplete their resources and assets, leaving the healthy spouse in a position of facing impoverishment. Here are a few of the costliest mistakes to avoid when one spouse needs to enter long-term care:

Not understanding the difference between countable assets and exempt assets

When applying for Medicaid, there are certain assets the state considers exempt and do not count when calculating your total assets. A few of the most common exempt assets include the couple’s primary residence, one motor vehicle, medical equipment, jewelry, and household goods and furnishings. However, countable assets such as the couple’s checking and savings accounts and mutual funds count towards the total amount of assets which need to be spent down to the Medicaid eligibility limit.

If a couple does not properly understand which assets are exempt and which ones are countable, they are likely to make the mistake of spending down exempt assets they didn’t need to spend down. Another mistake couples often make with spending down assets is continuing to spend down after they have already reached Medicaid’s eligibility limit.

Using countable assets to purchase exempt assets before admission

Even when a couple understands the difference between a countable asset and an exempt asset, they often make the mistake of trying to minimize their countable assets by using them to purchase exempt assets. This is a major mistake because it reduces the amount of the community spouse resource allowance (CSRA). The CSRA allows the Medicaid applicant’s spouse to keep one-half of their non-exempt assets up to a maximum of $126,420 as a CSRA.

For example, if a couple’s non-exempt, countable assets total $200,000 in value, the healthy spouse could keep $100,000 as a CSRA without being required to spend those assets down for the other spouse to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

However, Medicaid calculates the CSRA based on the total value of countable assets the couple own on the date the Medicaid applicant is admitting to a nursing home or other long-term care facility. A couple who did not realize their spouse could keep half of their assets as a CSRA may mistakenly spend down their countable assets prior to admission and thus reduce the amount of CSRA the healthy spouse gets.

Failing to get professional guidance on how to provide for long-term care costs

One of the biggest mistakes a couple can make when planning for Medicaid eligibility for one spouse is failing to work with a legal counselor to guide them through the process. Working with an estate planning lawyer who is experienced in handling Medicaid planning and knowledgeable in the laws and guidelines for Medicaid protects the couple from unnecessarily spending down resources and assets which should be exempt and protects the financial security of the remaining healthy spouse.

Experienced Kansas Medicaid planning lawyers help couples protect their assets and qualify for Medicaid

It is best to plan for the costs of long-term care well before either spouse needs it. The compassionate Kansas Medicaid and estate planning attorneys at Stockton & Stern, LLC have the experience necessary to act as your trusted advisors and guide you through the complex Medicaid planning process. Our lawyers are knowledgeable in all Medicaid and estate planning laws. To schedule an appointment, call us at 913-856-2828 or contact us online today. Our convenient office locations include Gardner and Overland Park, and we are available to meet you at your home if needed.