Every time someone applies for Medicaid (Title 19), the Connecticut Department of Social Services reviews all of that person’s assets, and if married, both spouses’ assets. It often comes as a surprise to people, but that includes examining life insurance policies. It can be an unwelcome surprise if the policy has to be cashed in, because many people plan on life insurance to pay for their funeral.
Not a week goes by without a husband or wife calling for information and advice because one of them needs significant care, including the possibility of nursing home placement. They are fearful and suffering great stress, because not only is it heart wrenching to see a spouse reduced to dependence on others, but there is a tremendous fear that they are going to lose their home.
Often in life there is more than one way to do something. In most cases, the outcome is the same. But when you are dealing with legal matters, there is likely a “right way” and “wrong way”. The right way complies with the law and gets you the results the law intended and you have succeeded. The wrong way does not meet the requirements of the law and you have failure, or even worse, a violation of the law with possible penalties.
A daughter, who has been caring for her mother in the daughter’s own home for over seven years, finally reached her wit’s end as her mother’s condition deteriorated. Mom needed help bathing, dressing, taking medications and even going to the bathroom by herself. The daughter was giving service above and beyond the call of duty to keep her mother out of a nursing home, but the stress level got so high that she made an appointment to see what outside help might be available before her own health deteriorated. Fortunately, we were able to inform her that with a little tweaking, she could get about $5,600 per month of home care.
The new year has brought a significant change in Medicaid eligibility rules for Connecticut seniors who have been married. In the past, if one spouse had died and the surviving spouse became sick and needed Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, or for home care, the money that passed on to the children by using a joint survivorship bank account or beneficiary designation was protected. Or, if the deceased spouse had an IRA, the children could be named beneficiaries and roll over the IRA to their own IRA. This transfer was not considered a gift and would not disqualify the surviving spouse.
The title of this article is an exact quote from a deceased client of mine, who lived to a ripe old age of ninety eight. What she was getting across to me was the point that once the infirmities of old age set in, all kinds of problems that never existed before raise their ugly heads and they are not always easy to face. Here are a few she and others experienced.