Case Study: Mom Needs Nursing Home Care… Now what?

It’s a horrible situation faced by so many families. A loved one, husband, wife, mom or dad, is slowing down and can’t live at home any longer. The doctor says mom needs nursing home care. What do you do? Your neighbor tells you that nursing homes cost $12,000 per month and that you will have to sell the family home to pay for it! You panic: Where will mom live? Which nursing home should mom go to? How will you pay for it?

We see this situation almost every day in our office. First, take a deep breath and know that there is help available and all is not lost. The Medicaid rules are extremely complex but a good elder law attorney can assist you in qualifying Mom for Medicaid (known as MassHealth in Massachusetts) as quickly as possible while protecting as much of the family assets as possible. In order to qualify for Medicaid, the person entering the nursing home is only allowed $2,000 in countable assets. Countable assets are all assets except: the home (with equity of $906,000 or less in 2021), a car, a $1,500 burial account, a pre-paid funeral, and whole life insurance with a face value of $1,500 or less. If the person is married, the spouse living at home is known as the community spouse. The community spouse can keep all of the first $130,380 (in 2021) in countable assets. If the couple has more than $130,380 then they have excess assets and must spend down.  Many people assume that a spend down must be done by privately paying for the nursing home. For a married couple this often is not necessary. Most, if not all, of the excess assets can usually be protected for the benefit of the community spouse. A good elder law attorney can show you how.

©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street, Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375. This article is for illustration purposes only. This handout does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article.  DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.