Happily Married or Something Else? Part 2
In last week’s post I went back to the topic of Medicaid and more specifically how the need for long term care might affect both spouses. The assets of both spouses are counted for eligibility purposes even if only one spouse is applying for benefits. I always remind people that a second marriage can dramatically change the eligibility process and I recommend, where possible, planning for the possibility of needing long term care before entering into a second marriage. But, what if the marriage is a fraud?
We have had a handful of calls to our office that I would categorize as just that. A younger, healthier partner marries an older less healthy and more dependent (physically, mentally or both) partner who then begins spending the older spouse’s money. Once the money runs out the younger spouse sometimes disappears, sometimes remains, in the home. The family, however, is left with the task of figuring out long term care and how to pay for it.
The spend down of these assets, if done within Medicaid’s 5 year look back period, must be documented. All asset owned by both spouses must be disclosed but an uncooperative spouse makes it difficult if not impossible to meet this requirement. Failure to produce the necessary documentation and information means any Medicaid application will be denied.
We have been faced with instances in which an ex-spouse refuses to disclose anything about his or her own assets during the part of the 5 year lookback when they were still married. Sometimes we have been able, with some effort, to gain enough cooperation. If we make every effort and the ex-spouse still refuses, however, then we have done everything we can. The State needs to either obtain the requested documentation through its efforts or approve the application without them.
But, what if the uncooperative spouse is not an ex? It is not as easy to convince Medicaid that, despite our best efforts, we can’t obtain the documentation. I’ll cover that situation and how we handle it in next week’s post.