Can Medicaid view my mother’s home as an asset for step-father’s eligibility?

Q: Can the State view my mother’s home as an asset in determining my step dad’s eligibility for Medicaid? My mom has owned her home in her own name for 40 years. She married my step father 35 years ago but left the house in her name. He is now going to require hospitalization in a nursing facility. Is her house at risk?

A:   All assets of husband and wife, regardless of how titled, are considered available assets for Medicaid eligibility. It often happens in late-in-life or second marriages that couples keep real estate or financial accounts separate in their own name. It really doesn’t matter for Medicaid. Medicaid will count assets of husband and wife, regardless of how titled. This is true even if there is a pre-nuptial agreement saying to the effect that the assets of one are separate and not available to the other spouse. These sorts of agreements are no concern to Medicaid as they count assets of both spouses regardless of the prenuptial or ante nuptial agreement. This is true even if the wife brings a million dollars into the marriage the husband brings very little and they keep their accounts separate. It would not matter to Medicaid as they would have the wife “spend down” most of her savings on his nursing home bills. This can be prevented with a skilled elder care attorney as he or she would know how to preserve the couple’s assets and savings for the at home spouse. This is true even if the rich spouse went into the nursing home. A portion of the assets may be able to be preserved for whomever they wished, including the spouse or other family member.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.