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What Happens if Your Spouse Needs to Move to a Long-Term Care Facility?

While spouses likely want to grow old together in the home they created, there may come a time when one spouse may need more care than the other can practically provide. Having one spouse move into a nursing home and the other stay at home can be an emotionally difficult yet necessary decision.

Most people know that nursing home care can be overwhelmingly expensive. The spouse who remains at home shouldn’t be impoverished because he or she has to pay for both long-term care and the usual expenses of the family home. How do you plan for such a situation to ensure that you don’t lose all of your hard-earned savings and benefits? This question is something you should always discuss with an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney.

Preserving Your Income and Assets

No one wants to deplete his or her wealth by paying for nursing home care for a spouse out-of-pocket. If you plan ahead, you may take out a long-term care insurance policy that can cover these costs should you need it without affecting your assets. An attorney can help you select the right policy for you and your spouse.

Many people rely on Medicaid to cover the costs of long-term care. However, Medicaid in Utah has an income and asset threshold for eligibility. Does this mean that the well spouse will have to give up almost everything they have for their other spouse to qualify for Medicaid? Fortunately, no.

Utah’s Department of Health has different programs and exceptions to address this common situation. For example, the well spouse – known as the “community spouse” for Medicaid purposes – can keep a certain share of the assets, including assets owned by the institutionalized spouse in some situations. This share is considered “non-countable” for Medicaid eligibility. If the community spouse has income under a certain amount, they can also keep the institutionalized spouse’s income.

Even with these allowances, many people will have assets and income at risk. You never want to try to conceal assets and defraud the Medicaid system – instead, our lawyers can help you plan for asset protection in a legal and practical manner. There are several different options for different situations, including:

  • Trust planning
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Wealth transfers
  • Private disability benefits
  • Veteran’s or Social Security benefits

Our attorneys will carefully review your financial situation and help you plan for the future in the way that’s best for you.

Protecting the Family Home

Another important consideration is what will happen to the family home. This is likely one of the most substantial assets you have, and you don’t want to risk losing it, especially if one spouse will be staying there for the immediate future. In Utah, a house is a non-countable asset, which means it will not affect Medicaid eligibility, and you won’t have to sell it to cover long-term care costs. However, the home could be an issue if the well spouse unexpectedly passes away, and the house is then solely owned by the institutionalized spouse.

When the institutionalized spouse passes away, Medicaid can recover funds from the estate to recoup benefits, and this includes the house. If one spouse needs to move to a nursing home, our attorneys can help you plan ahead to protect the house from Medicaid estate recovery, so your children or other beneficiaries can benefit from the home.

Contact Our Committed Utah Estate Planning and Elder Care Law Firm Today

There are many complicated situations that may arise as you age, but you can confidently face them with the right comprehensive estate plan. Let Craig Dell Attorneys help you plan for the future. Please don’t hesitate to call 801-783-2515 or contact us online to request a consultation.


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