Q: Hi. My mother will soon be going to a nursing home. Is my step father responsible for her nursing home expenses after her money? My mom has $75,000 in liquid assets. I own the home she and my step dad live in. My step dad has about $200,000 in liquid assets and owns a farm valued at $950,000. The farm and his assets are in his name only. They have been married 27 years. Is he responsible for her nursing home expense after her money is used up? He lives on his social security and the income from his farm. My mother’s funeral has been prepaid through at trust. Is there anything else we should be doing? (Cecil, PA)
A: If your step father just paid your mother’s medical expenses out of your mother’s money and waited until she was out of money, he few choices. He would either start to pay from his funds. If he refused, your mother would need Medicaid funding to maintain her care. Your mom has to be eligible for Medicaid, to receive Medicaid benefits. If she is not, her husband could be personally liable for care costs as PA recognized filial responsibility. For determining eligibility for benefits, Medicaid pools the resources of a married couple together so it doesn’t matter at this point who owns what. Through appropriate Medicaid planning, assets can be transferred and repositioned is such ways as to accelerate Medicaid eligibility while protecting the estate, but you need professional help. You really should seek a consultation with an elder law attorney versed in Medicaid regulations.