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Estate Planning: Your Family, Your Wealth, Your Legacy.

Medicaid Divorce: Maybe . . . Maybe Not.

March 31st, 2018 by Antoinette Bone

Harry and Wanda got married late in life. This was their second marriage, and both had children from the prior marriages. The couple wanted their children to inherit from their respective parents, so Harry and Wanda signed a prenuptial agreement to keep their property clearly separated.

 

Unfortunately, Harry was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Medical bills piled up, his condition worsened, and soon Wanda was no longer able to care for him at home. But the cost of nursing-home care was formidable.

 

The Medicaid program is designed to help pay for that staggering cost. However, before a couple can be eligible, the rules require that the assets of both spouses are counted to pay for the care of one, even if only one spouse needs the care. Prenuptial agreements do not matter. The Medicaid rules count the assets of both spouses together. Wanda would be permitted to keep some of her property for her own use – but this would not be enough for her to maintain her standard of living, pay for her retirement, and still leave enough for Wanda’s children to inherit.

 

Wanda heard that divorce might solve this dilemma. The couple’s assets would get separated in the divorce proceedings and, after that, only the property designated as Harry’s would be applied to the cost of his care. He would spend that down, Medicaid would then step in, and Wanda’s share would remain her own.

 

But Wanda didn’t like the idea of a divorce that would be only “on paper,” because she had no intention of deserting Harry in his time of need. Harry’s children weren’t happy, either. And if the divorce was going to work as intended, the couple should probably consult not just one but three professionals – an elder law attorney, a financial planner, and a divorce lawyer.

 

But this plan would involve expense, possible family unrest, and uncertainty as to whether a court would approve the plan. The divorce strategy comes with significant downsides.

 

Early planning is best, to consult an elder law attorney at least five years before the need for Medicaid arrives. If that is not possible, an experienced elder law attorney can find other, less-fraught ways than divorce.

 

Early planning if possible, though, is always best. If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

Contact other Euless, Texas Elder Law Attorney, Antoinette Bone, at (817) 462-5454 or email info@abonelaw.com today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

 

To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.

Nothing in this message is intended to provide legal advice.  This message is for educational purposes only.

 

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