Properly Prepare For a Spouse’s Long Term Care

Matt:
Time now for money matters Monday. It is something that no one wants to think about, the idea of putting your spouse into some sort of long-term care. What happens to your family financially at that point? And what can you do now maybe to prepare for that sort of life change?

Matt:
Brian Quinn is a partner with Quinn Estate and Elder Law, LLC, and part of the Secures circle of advisors, and he joins us this morning with some advice that we really need. Good morning Brian, how are you?

Brian Quinn:
Good morning Matt, thank you, I’m doing well.

Matt:
The fact that there are people like Brian in this world tells you how complicated and how complex and how important this sort of estate planning is. And one of the things you told me as we were preparing to go on that really hit home was, there’s a world of difference when someone comes to see you who’s single versus someone who comes to see you when they’re married.

Brian Quinn:
Sure. And Matt, as you know, our law firm does a lot of estate planning for people of all ages, but we also do a lot of work in the elder law field, which would be helping individuals with special needs or some sort of disability. And what I see a lot of the times is I will have a client that comes to my office, maybe their spouse has recently had a stroke, or maybe they’ve been diagnosed with some sort of long-term debilitating illness. I had someone come in that their spouse was diagnosed with ALS recently.

Brian Quinn:
And so they are looking at how we are going to pay for that long-term care throughout the course of what could be many, many years of their lifetime. Some of these couples may be elderly, but some may be younger, maybe 50s, 60s, still even putting kids through college, things like that.

Brian Quinn:
And so, I always like to stress to people that come in that the planning is a lot different for a single individual that may need to qualify for a program like Medicaid versus a married couple. And one of the reasons that it’s so much different is the government wants to be there … The Medicaid program is there of course to take care of individuals that have spent down their assets to a certain level to qualify for nursing home benefits, things like that.

Brian Quinn:
But one thing the government doesn’t want to do is they don’t wanna force two members of a couple both to have to spend down their entire estate, and therefore both be on government benefits.

Matt:
Interesting. So there are opportunities out there for married couples because the government has a vested interest in not putting them both on the doles, if you will. The government offers certain avenues for them that might not be available to a single person.

Brian Quinn:
Yeah, what is commonly referred to as the Medicaid division of assets process. And one good thing about what Medicaid allows is not only do they allow the spouse, and there’s a calculation that goes into it, but not only do they allow them to keep usually a large amount of just cash assets without needing to spend something down, but they also allow them oftentimes to keep the home, to keep a car, to prepay for burial policies, keep insurance policies, things like that.

Brian Quinn:
But also, they split up the income so that the spouse that doesn’t need to be in the nursing home oftentimes keeps all of their income, and sometimes even some of the income from the spouse that needs to be in the nursing home.

Matt:
So that you don’t exhaust your income and your assets on both sides of that equation.

Brian Quinn:
Correct.

Matt:
You mentioned Medicaid, and if I may, let me ask a follow-up on that too, because this is, we’ve done entire segments on Medicaid. That’s a complicated minefield too. And if you make a poor decision early on, you might be locked into something you don’t want for a while.

Brian Quinn:
Absolutely. Yeah, there are things that you can do, especially within the five year period leading up to the point where you file for Medicaid. They’re very famous for having this period that they look backwards to see if a client has tried to, or an applicant should I say has tried to become eligible for their programs ahead of time. And they’ll penalize you in the form of a waiting period depending on what you decide to do.

Brian Quinn:
So it’s always important, if you’re going to do any planning, to try to do it in advance of needing that. But if you’re caught with a situation, stroke, aneurysm, like I said, some sort of, something, a quick onset where someone’s going to be disabled, there are still things that you can do, but it’s really important to have professional advice to kind of navigate some of those minefields that you’re talking about, yeah.

Matt:
And I’m glad you mentioned and brought up as examples some of these sort of sudden events, because I think a lot of us look at grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles and use that as a gauge of where we’re gonna be, and if there’s failing health there, you probably come to the table with a different mindset. But the reality is something could happen tomorrow …

Brian Quinn:
Absolutely.

Matt:
… as you said, an ALS diagnosis, or an aneurysm, or something, and you just have to be prepared.

Matt:
Thank you for coming in.

Brian Quinn:
You’re welcome.

Matt:
I almost feel better about this now, just from the conversation. If you’d like to get in touch …

2018-12-27T17:26:09+00:00September 18th, 2018|