Amount of Assets that the At-Home Spouse Can Keep When Applying for MassHealth Long-Term Care for Spouse in Nursing Home Has Increased to $113,540 for 2012

When one spouse enters a nursing home, the spouse at home (known as the “community spouse”) is allowed to keep certain assets, including the principal residence, the car, and an amount of the other assets known as the “community spouse resource allowance” (sometimes knows as the “spousal resource allowance).  The community spouse resource allowance is indexed to the U.S. Consumer Price Index, and has increased to $113,640 for the calendar year 2012. 

With careful planning, the community spouse can keep much more than the community spouse resource would seem to allow.   For more information on this topic, see my detailed post at my Massachusetts Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law blog, entitled Protecting Assets and Maximum Income for the Community Spouse When Applying for MassHealth in 2012 to Help Pay for the Unhealthy Spouse’s Nursing Home Bills in Massachusetts

At-Home Spouses Should Obtain Legal Advice When Applying for MassHealth to Cover Nursing Home Costs for Their Spouses

In a recent 2010 Massachusetts case, a wife didn’t obtain timely MassHealth approval to cover her husband’s nursing home bills, and ended up being sued by the nursing home.  Even though she had not signed anything at the nursing home that would cause her to be financially responsible for his bills, she still lost the case and had to pay $45,243.24 to the nursing home out of her own pocket.  Why?  Under Massachusetts law, spouses are financially responsible for “necessaries” for their spouses, and this case makes it clear that nursing home bills are considered necessaries under Massachusetts law.  For more information, or to read the case yourself, go to Are You Personally Responsible for Your Spouse’s Nursing Home Bills in Massachusetts?

There is an official way to refuse to cooperate with the MassHealth application process, but unfortunately the wife in this case didn’t handle matters correctly.  In most cases, by making the right moves, the at-home spouse can keep all the assets anyway, so timely cooperation usually makes sense.  For more information about how the at-home spouse can keep all the assets, go to Preserving Assets and Maximum Income for the Healthier Spouse When the Other Spouse Enters a Nursing Home

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