Ohio Elder Law Attorney Answers: “What Assets Can My Spouse Keep if I Enter a Nursing Home Under Medicaid?”

In Ohio, elder law attorneys can use a Medicaid asset protection plan to help clients keep more assets if they need Medicaid to cover Ohio nursing home costs. Without advance Ohio Medicaid estate planning, a claimant's spouse can only keep half of household assets up to $113,640.

A question that commonly comes up when a client either finds out that he or she needs to enter a nursing home or is preparing for the possibility is, "What does Medicaid allow my spouse to keep if I enter a nursing home?"

The short answer is that the spouse of a Medicaid claimant can keep half of the household assets up to a maximum of $113,640 in her name. Medicaid allows applicants to keep up to $1,500 in assets. If the applicant or their spouse directly owns more assets than that, then the spouse can keep half of those assets and the rest must be liquidated and either spent or used to pay nursing home costs. However, Medicaid rules are not simple, so it's always best to have an Ohio elder law attorney look over your situation and help you determine what you and your spouse will be able to keep and assist you in your application for Medicaid.

Ohio Elder Law Attorney's Strategies for Keeping More Assets

While, together, a Medicaid applicant and his or her spouse can only keep a total of $115,140 (or less if total assets are more than $227,280) and still qualify for Medicaid, an asset protection plan can help applicants keep more of their assets.

However, these plans must be put in place at least five years before there is a need for Ohio Medicaid. Estate planning with the help of an Ohio elder law attorney can protect your assets from being absorbed by Ohio nursing home costs by using trusts and other asset protection tools. These tools transfer ownership of the assets out of your name so they don't count against your Medicaid eligibility. However, if less than five years after setting up your plan you apply for Medicaid, your asset protection plan will get you penalized and you'll be denied eligibility for a period of time – possibly even more than five years!

It's also important to know that any assets the spouse keeps in his or her name could be subject to collection by Medicaid after the spouse's death, including the home. If one spouse ends up applying for Ohio Medicaid and estate planning has not been done, it is important for the other spouse to contact an Ohio elder law attorney and get an asset protection plan put in place to preserve the remaining assets. However, this should be done AFTER the first spouse's application for Medicaid has been approved or they will be treated as improperly transferred assets.

When planning for the possibility of needing Medicaid, an asset protection strategy must be executed properly. Gudorf Law Group, LLC, can help protect your home and other assets from Ohio nursing home costs. Call our Ohio elder law attorney's office at 1-877-483-6730 to schedule a free consultation.