Medicaid planning -- challenging but necessary process

Life may be like a box of chocolates, but, while some chocolates are pretty awesome, others are less enjoyable. Estate planning helps people to plan for those less pleasant parts of their lives. Every person in Pennsylvania knows that the time could come when he or she develops health problems. This is where Medicaid planning can come in as part of estate planning.

The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act has provisions that protect legally married couples if one spouse needs the care provided by a nursing home while the other spouse is still healthy. This is called the Spousal Impoverishment Protection Law, under which the spouse in the facility is called the institutionalized spouse, and the healthy person is referred to as the community spouse. This act prevents situations in which Medicaid only becomes effective when all the assets and income of a couple have been used up.

Under this law, the institutionalized spouse can qualify for Medicaid while the community spouse has access to some of the funds from their assets and income. The provision of the law protects a specific portion of the combined assets to allow the community spouse to care for him or herself. Furthermore, a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance may be triggered under certain circumstances, and it is meant for the community spouse. Other allowances for mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance and taxes may also be available.

Medicaid planning is a complicated but important part of estate planning and may need the support and guidance of an experienced estate-planning attorney. Specific laws exist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that apply to circumstances in which one spouse becomes incapacitated. A skilled lawyer can ensure protection against those less awesome chocolates that are included in the lives of all.

Source: FindLaw, "Will Medicaid Help With Nursing Home Expenses for My Spouse if I Can Still Live Independently?", Accessed on April 1, 2017

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