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Protecting marital assets and applying for Medicaid

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2017 | Firm News, Long Term Care Planning |

As the costs of long-term care increase, people in Ohio are more concerned with the specifics of providing for themselves in the event that they need care later in life. For those who are planning to rely on Medicaid to cover some or all of the expenses, it’s important to understand the way the program looks at assets. Married individuals may want to consider the way their assets are owned and classified.

Certain assets are exempt from the rules of Medicaid. The primary residence, for example, will not be counted as an asset by Medicaid as long as one of the spouses lives there. Also uncountable under the Medicaid system are term life insurance policies that do not have cash value and one motor vehicle. In the event that one spouse needs long-term care, he or she can claim Medicaid benefits, and the other spouse can keep these assets.

As far as other assets, Medicaid will generally count them. For married couples, the system takes the value of countable assets and divides the total in half. The spouse that does not need long-term care can keep half of the countable assets up to a maximum value of just less than $121,000. According to an estate planning attorney, a person applying for Medicaid must have less than $2,000 in total countable assets to meet the Medicaid asset test.

Couples that want to spend down their assets before applying for Medicaid should be careful to obey the rules and regulations in place. For those with a valid prenuptial agreement, divorce may solve the too-much-money problem. An attorney with experience in long-term care planning may be able to help by examining the specific facts of the situation and suggesting strategies to maximize Medicaid eligibility. A lawyer may be able to draft and file necessary legal documents or argue on behalf of his or her client during hearings.

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