Is Your Spouse Moving to a Nursing Home? Are You Scared of Using up Your Savings on the Nursing Home Bill?

August 8, 2012

Filed under: MassHealth,Medicaid (MassHealth) — Alexis @ 10:32 AM

When one member of a couple needs nursing home care, and if you are asking MassHealth to assist with the monthly bill, then the healthy spouse at home may keep only $113,640 in liquid assets, in addition to her home.  For a younger spouse with many years ahead of her, reducing her liquid assets to only $113,640 can be a very scary proposition.

One option for the healthy spouse to hold onto more of her savings is to convert the liquid into real estate, namely, to make improvements to her home.  Now is the time to make the repairs you’ve been putting off – new heating system, new roof, etc.  Think about what modifications will allow you to stay in your home for as long as possible, like widening doorways and remodeling a bathroom to be easier to use if you have less mobility.  And if you are not planning to stay in your home for much longer, then think about what improvements will help you sell your home.

Another option for helping a healthy spouse hold on to more of her savings is an annuity.  MassHealth permits an at-home spouse to convert her excess assets to an annuity that meets very particular requirements.  You absolutely must work with an elder law attorney if you want an annuity for MassHealth purposes.  Most financial advisors are not familiar with the MassHealth annuity requirements.  And those advisors that do know the requirements don’t want the liability of advising you themselves.

When one member of a couple is entering a nursing home, it is critical for the at-home spouse to meet with an elder law attorney to understand her options.  Adjusting to living alone is hard enough.  You shouldn’t also have to learn how to live with the fear of running out of money.