Updating Your Medicaid Plan Upon Death Of Nursing Home Spouse

Douglas L. Kaune, Esq.

Medicaid Asset Protection Planning is often entered into by a Community Spouse when his or her spouse is likely to enter a long term nursing home. Often, this planning is geared to protecting the assets for the Community Spouse and insuring their financial future. In these cases the planning opportunities may be limited because of the nursing home spouse’s Medicaid application and the related gifting rules. Therefore, we may be able to protect the Community Spouse, but are not able to fully protect the marital assets should the Community Spouse also need nursing home care in the future.

In these cases, should the nursing home spouse ultimately pass away with the Community Spouse still at home, the Community Spouse should update his or her Elder Law Plan. After the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse can more easily make use of other planning options. These planning options can then include gifting to Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts and other techniques. These gifts and other options will be under and subject to the Medicaid look back should the surviving spouse apply for Medicaid in the future.

However, if they keep their remaining assets in their individual name and need the long term care, the retained assets will almost certainly be spent on the nursing care. Although the surviving spouse may not choose to enter into any additional planning, he or she should determine what options exist so that they can make an educated decision.

Most importantly, the surviving spouse should understand that the opportunities available to them might be considerably different after the death of the nursing home spouse.