As we age, life can change dramatically, and we are confronted with questions we never thought we’d have to address. Most older couples are on Medicaid and have Social Security income, but medical costs, everyday living expenses, and especially the cost of a nursing home can be overwhelming.
One of the most common situations is that one spouse must enter a nursing home due to health or mental issues, but the other is capable of living in their family home and desperately wants to do that. This can be an emotional, heart-wrenching situation, but an experienced, empathetic Blue Bell estate planning lawyer can be of significant help.
The federal government has legal protections that ensure that you, as a healthy spouse, do not go broke or are left without a place to live after your spouse enters a nursing facility.
Usually referred to as “Spousal Impoverishment Protection,” or Division of Assets. The law states that you, as the spouse living at home, have enough money to live by protecting certain income and assets.
So, very simply put, if you are the community spouse and wish to continue to live in your home, you will not lose it. This usually holds, no matter how valuable your current home is worth.
In addition to your home being exempt, there are other specific assets that fall under this law, and you are permitted to hold onto them.
Some of these assets are:
- Most household items.
- Personal effects, and one vehicle.
- Pre-paid funeral expenses and plans, including burial plots.
- Life insurance policies that have a face value no greater than $1,500 (but this can vary).
All rules and government laws are not as simple as stated, and each situation is unique. Your lawyer will familiarize themselves with your case and ensure you know all the available legal options.
Are There Any “Conditions” I Must Meet to Keep My Home?
As stated, the legalities of dealing with the rules and regulations of Medicaid, etc., are legally confusing and challenging to navigate.
If your spouse must enter a nursing home in Pennsylvania, you can be eligible for nursing home medical assistance and keep your home if you express an intent to return to that home.
Even if your spouse has little chance of returning, the house is exempt if you legally state that they intend to return home.
The laws intend that your home be there in case your spouse returns. This allows you to have a nursing home bill paid by medical assistance and still keep your own home.
As always, there may be “catches” to this benevolent attitude, and even though your house is exempt while you’re living, the Department of Human Services is, on the sidelines, waiting. They may have a legal claim on your estate based upon all the nursing home benefits you have previously received through medical assistance. So, upon the death of your spouse in the nursing home, it may now be necessary to sell the house to pay back medical assistance benefits.
There are many “hoops” to go through and overcome to ensure that all your rights are preserved and you can provide for your spouse and yourself. Your Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, or Lehigh County estate planning lawyer is experienced in dealing with all of these legal details and will fight to ensure that all your options are covered.
Are There Are Other Measures Available to Help, Such as “Transferring” My Home?
Yes, it is sometimes possible for you to transfer your home to another and live there. However, you can usually do this only under specific circumstances.
Some of the rules and circumstances involved are:
- Your home can usually be transferred to you as the spouse.
- If you have a child living with you who is under 21 and is blind or disabled.
- You may transfer your home to a sibling if they have an interest in the house and lived there for at least one year before a spouse enters a nursing home.
- Also, you may be able to transfer your home to a child if they lived in the home years before you moved to a nursing home and the child provided care to you which helped you remain at home rather than enter a facility.
This legal remedy can be, at the least, “tricky,” and you must have the help of a Blue Bell estate planning law team that will help ensure you are doing the right thing for you and your family.
How Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Help Me Keep My Home, & Assets?
“Estate planning” is the usual term used to describe the process of organizing and planning the orderly transfer of property and assets upon death. Estate planning deals with death, inheritance tax issues and much more.
However, long-term care planning combines estate planning with the many concerns of protecting and preserving your hard-earned assets from the enormous costs of long-term care.
Your experienced estate planning lawyer is very adept at “Long term” care planning, which is concerned with questions such as: “What if I, or my spouse, become seriously ill or disabled and need extensive care or have to live in a nursing home?”
Your Blue Bell estate planning and elder law attorney will thoroughly analyze your financial situation and prepare a viable plan for both death and disability that may require long-term nursing home care. This plan will be formed to fit the needs of your situation as you and your spouse age and ensure that you both have the best quality of life possible.
My Spouse Needs to Enter a Nursing home; How Should I Obtain Guidance?
Unfortunately, the time has come, and you realize that your spouse is facing an impending health crisis, dementia, or another illness and she can no longer live at home.
This is an emotional and overwhelming situation, but you still must take care of yourself and find answers on how to remain living at home.
Your Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester or Lehigh County elder law attorney’s key role is to help solve the numerous issues that arise and provide professional, empathetic legal guidance to ensure that optimum “quality of life” is preserved for you and your spouse.
Don’t try to navigate these legal issues alone, as too much is at stake. Consult with your local elder law attorney and plan your moves carefully so that you, and your spouse, are cared for with the dignity and respect you both deserve.