Marriage and Medicaid

George called me concerning his step-mom, Rita.  Rita is in the hospital but about to be transferred to a nursing facility where she will remain on a long term basis once Medicare coverage stops.  The conversation quickly turned to Medicaid.

George explained that Dad and Rita have been married 5 years.  Rita came into the marriage with very few assets.  Dad owns the home where George and his brother grew up, worth approximately $500,000. and another $500,000 of additional investments.  His mom died about 10 years ago and Dad, seeking companionship, reconnected with Rita, an old high school classmate.  George told me that Rita has a daughter with whom she has no relationship and who is no help at all in caring for Rita.

George’s $64,000 question was, “How much does Dad have to spend down towards Rita’s care before she can qualify for Medicaid?”  He told me that Dad had always intended to leave his assets to George and his brother when he dies but now is concerned about whether that will happen.

I asked George some preliminary questions.  Neither Dad nor Rita has any long term care insurance.  They also do not have a prenuptial agreement in place, although even if they did, Dad would have to divorce Rita to invoke that agreement and protect his assets from being spent down towards her care.

So, where does that leave them?  Next week I’ll tell you.

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