How much additional property is my spouse allowed to keep?
The Medicaid rules of every state provide that your in-home spouse is entitled to all of the exempt assets and an additional amount f non-exempt property. The non-exempt property includes one-half of the assets that the two of you had on the dated used by Medicaid to determine your eligibility, subject to strict limitations as to the maximum amount. A community spouse with property in excess of the limit of non-exempt assets will cause your application to be denied.
Since the law allows singles and married couples to own a modest amount of assets and still qualify for Medicaid, why not try to maximize that which the government says you get to keep? So if you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you or your spouse need to apply for Medicaid, you have every right to “spend down” your assets in order to incur the shortest penalty period and keep as much of your property as the government allows. By carefully following the spend-down rules, you can accomplish both goals!
Determining how to best comply with the spend-down rules, while still protecting your property to the greatest extent legally allowed, requires exceptional knowledge, resourcefulness and creativity. If you want the best possible results, you need to speak with your estate planning attorney sooner rather than later.